HRW Calls for an End to Rape of Women in Detention by Peruvian Soldiers and Police
Human Rights Watch/Americas
21 February 1995
In an open letter sent today to Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, the Women's Rights Project and the Americas division of Human Rights Watch denounce the continued use of rape by Peru's security forces against women held in detention and call on President Fujimori to investigate, try, and punish soldiers and police accused of rape.
Human Rights Watch cites six recent cases of women who were raped and subjected to other forms of torture in detention by Peru's security forces. Human Rights Watch condemns the Fujimori government's failure to investigate and prosecute these human rights violations.
Human Rights Watch documented the widespread use of rape by security forces in a 1993 report, Untold Terror: Violence against Women in Peru's Armed Conflict. After the publication of that report, President Fujimori publicly conceded Peru's failure to investigate and punish rape committed by soldiers and police. He vowed to "drastically punish" soldiers and police who commit rape. Nevertheless, almost three years later, rape continues to be common. We are not aware of any serious investigations into charges of rape, or prosecution of policemen or soldiers who have committed these crimes. This lack of accountability is responsible for that fact that rape continues unchecked.
The text of the letter follows.
February 21, 1995
His Excellency Alberto Fujimori
President of Republic of Peru
Government Palace Lima 1
Dear President Fujimori:
We are writing to express our concern at the continued use of rape by Peru's security forces against women held in detention. We are troubled that public declarations by Your Excellency promising to "drastically punish" soldiers and police officers who commit rape have not resulted in concrete measures to investigate allegations of rape in detention or punish members of the security forces who have committed rape. Recent evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch shows that the pattern of impunity for rapists in uniform persists.
Once again, we call on your government to investigate, try, and punish those accused of such violations of basic human rights. We urge you to take appropriate action to combat the "lamentable tradition here in Peru of impunity" that you acknowledged in an article published in the New York Times on April 29, 1993.
The Women's Rights Project and the Americas division of Human Rights Watch have thoroughly documented the use of rape as a tactic in Peru's counter insurgency war. Our report, Untold Terror: Violence against Women in Peru's Armed Conflict, published in January 1993, documented the extensive use of rape by Peru's military and police forces, and the systematic assassination of women activists by the Shining Path. That report called on the government to, among other things, prohibit and publicly denounce murder, torture, and ill-treatment of its citizens, including women; and to repeal anti-terrorism legislation that abrogates fundamental human rights.
Rape against women in detention by Peru's securities forces continues unabated, uninvestigated, and unprosecuted. The U.S. State Department in its just-released Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1994 confirms that there "continued to be credible reports that members of the security forces raped women, especially in the emergency zones." The following six (6) cases demand immediate and decisive action by your government. We call upon you to investigate the allegations of rape these women have leveled against Peru's security forces; insure the personal safety and access to counsel for these women; and implement measures that would prevent rape from occurring in other situations, including speedily and thoroughly investigating within the civilian court system all those security forces agents accused of rape and other human rights abuses.
- ROSA QUISPE RUPAY, twenty-one-years-old, was detained by the army in Bagua on February 26, 1993, and accused of associating with guerrillas because she worked in a restaurant where members of the Movimiento Revolucionario "Tupac Amaru" (MRTA) guerrilla group frequently ate. Quispe, during interrogation, was threatened with rape; raped both anally and vaginally by a soldier; beaten and given electric shocks; and otherwise tortured while being held by the army, before being transferred to police custody on the third day of her detention. Quispe was subsequently charged with terrorism, although the police presented no evidence to support their charge. Quispe was found not guilty by a "faceless" court of the accusations against her and released.
- PAULINA CHOQUEHUANCA, a twenty-three-year-old from the village of Uchupata, is secretary of communication and culture of the Huancabamba Association of Women Peasant Workers. On December 23, 1993, while returning from a workshop and training session, Choquehuanca was detained by the army and accused of terrorism. She was raped, tortured, and ridiculed for her social work. Her tormentors accused her of supporting the release of Antero Pena, president of the peasant community to which she belongs. Although the investigative judge concluded she was not guilty and signed an order giving her unconditional liberty while the trial progressed, the faceless court charged with processing such orders revoked it. She remains in Picsi Prison in Chiclayo.
- TERESA RICRA MONTANEZ was tortured and raped when she was arrested in 1989. Her first trial was declared a mistrial because of a procedural error and ordered to begin again this year. However, because of judicial inefficiency, the trial was begun without her being present: She was never physically transferred from her prison cell to the court. A mistrial was declared a second time. She remains incarcerated.
- MARIA LOAYZA TAMAYO told human rights groups that National Directorate against Terrorism (DINCOTE) police raped her while she was in custody in Lima. She was later acquitted of treason by a military tribunal on August 11, 1993, and now faces charges of terrorism.
- VIRGINIA LUCERO CALDERON was raped and beaten after her arrest by police in her village of Chullu, in the state of Lambayeque, on August 25, 1993, apparently after a personal vendetta escalated into accusations that her husband was a guerrilla. Police forced her into signing a confession she never read. Lucero was eventually acquitted, after being tried by a civilian faceless court in Chiclayo.
- MARIA DE LA CRUZ PARI was raped by DINCOTE agents. De la Cruz had gone voluntarily to DINCOTE headquarters in Lima on January 6, 1993, to testify on behalf of a family member accused of being a member of the Shining Path. Instead, she was arrested and held incommunicado. Between January 7 and 10, De la Cruz, along with five other female prisoners, was blindfolded and taken to a beach south of Lima, at which time she was repeatedly raped and tortured with near-drowning. De la Cruz claims that she was impregnated during the rapes. Although the government's investigation into this accusation concluded that De la Cruz was pregnant when she was detained, an independent examination conducted by two doctors from the Lima Maternity Hospital concluded that De la Cruz conceived while in custody. The Democratic Constituent Congress (CCD) investigated the allegations of rape, but its findings were never published. De la Cruz was acquitted of treason, but her case was referred to a civilian faceless court and she was sentenced in November 1994 to twenty years. The case is currently being appealed.
Almost three years ago you said that "In these cases of rapes of women, I hope to have prosecutions." We respectfully ask Your Excellency to act immediately to investigate these charges of abuse and to prosecute those responsible. Thank you for your immediate attention to the issues we have raised. We look forward to your response.
Regan E. Ralph
Acting Co-Director Women's Rights Project
Executive Director Human Rights Watch/Americas
cc: Mr. Ricardo Luna, Ambassador of Peru; Mr. Alvin Adams, U.S. Ambassador to Peru; Mr. Fernando Vega Santa Gadea, Minister of Justice; Ms. Martha Melzow, Desk Officer for Peru, U.S. State Department; Mr. Stan Specht, Desk Officer for Peru, U.S. State Department; Ms. Pilar Aguilar, Instituto de Defensa Legal, Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos