News from Lori's Parents

7 January 2003

In this update:

Perú's Constitutional Court fails to make adequate changes needed to comply with international standards

On January 3, 2003, Perú's Constitutional Court announced that one of the four anti-terrorism decrees promulgated by the now disgraced autocratic ex-president Alberto Fujimori is unconstitutional and unenforceable, and the other law decrees have serious legal defects. Thus, with the single exception of the most notorious procedure, that of the secret military tribunals, Perú's Constitutional Court has completely failed to comply with prior decisions of the OAS, Inter- American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Instead, in an apparent effort to 'create the appearance' that it has taken courageous and historically important steps in reforming Perú's laws, the Constitutional Court has retained within the law mostly all of the abuses instituted by the Fujimori regime, accomplishing the same ends through the civil courts.

In April 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, reiterating its decision and that of the Inter-American Court in prior cases, stated that Perú's antiterrorism laws governing both military and civilian trials were in violation of international law and needed to be amended. For example, in Lori's case the Commission declared "The violations of the human rights of Ms. Berenson in the military trial were not cured with the second [i.e. civilian] trial" and that ''Her conviction in the second trial is so unsupported by the facts that it constitutes a violation of the right to a fair trial.''

However, Perú's Constitutional Court failed to heed such rulings, apparently more concerned with politics than with real justice. Eventually, Perú will be forced to comply by international law, the OAS Inter-American Court, and the refusal of governments that believe in freedom, democracy, and justice to continue to engage in friendly relations with it.

Lori's case is pending before the Inter-American Court. We have urged this court, and will urge again, and believe it must address Lori's case on an expedited basis -- as good policy and sound procedure requires -- because the case must be decided purely on legal grounds without the need to make any findings of fact and because Lori has been tried under decrees which were previously determined to violate her rights under the American Convention on Human Rights. In addition, Lori was subject to a second trial for the same cause, in violation of Article 8 of the American Convention, after being acquitted by the nonappealable judgment of the Supreme Council of Military Justice for absence of evidence.

Lori's case is unique. She is the only current prisoner having been acquitted by the military courts who has been unlawfully tried again for the same cause under a Fujimori decree that has been determined to violate the American Convention and other international law. The Peruvian press talks of a possible third trial but this only would compound the violations of the most fundamental protections of a fair trial -- due process of law, double jeopardy, and ex-post-facto application of law.

Action campaign planned

Given Perú's continued refusal to comply with its international legal obligations, particularly the Inter-American Commission's recommendations in Loris case, we nned your help more than ever to secure Lori's release. A letter-writing and telephone campaign is being developed and we will be contacting you ASAP.

Thank you for your continued support and help!

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson