Lawrence W. Schilling
November 14, 2000
Hon. Jorge E. Taiana
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
1889 F Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Re: Lori Berenson
Case 11.876 - Peru
Dear Mr. Taiana:
We are deeply concerned that despite the illegality of its actions the Government of Peru is conducting further proceedings against Ms. Berenson and getting ready to proceed with a second trial, a public "show trial" this time, in violation of Ms. Berenson's rights under the Convention and decisions of the Commission which assure due process of law and the rights not to be placed twice in jeopardy for the same acts.
The Commission by letter of October 19, 2000, gave Peru fifteen days to produce records of the military proceedings against Ms. Berenson and give legal reasons why Ms. Berenson remains in custody facing trial despite the nullification of the military judgment against her for insufficiency of evidence, among other grounds.
The 15 day period expired nearly two weeks ago and we understand there has been no response by Peru other than a belated request for more time. This is tantamount to a motion to violate her rights to due process of law and not to be tried twice for the same acts. We note that Peru has evaded its duty to provide Ms. Berenson a copy of the military tribunal record for years. We strenuously oppose this request.
Time is of the essence.
Ms. Berenson continues to be confined unjustly as she has been for five years this November 30 and continues to be subjected to interrogation and the threat of a show trial. in blatant disregard of due process of law and the rule against double jeopardy. The show trial can begin this year, even this month.
As we urged at the hearing during the commission's October 2000 session, the record as it now stands amply justifies a decision in Ms. Berenson's favor terminating further proceedings against her and ordering her immediate release.
The Commission's 15 day courtesy to Peru at the expense of Ms. Berenson's rights was sufficient.
It would violate the rights of Lori Berenson and disserve the interests of justice if Peru is able to delay its compliance with the 15 day request and by so doing succeeds in delaying the Commission's decision in Ms. Berenson's case until she is de facto on trial a second time for the same acts in a court ruled incapable of due process.
We therefore respectfully request that Peru be required to make its response immediately, without any further delay, and failing to do so, that the Commission order the release of Lori Berenson forthwith.