News from Lori's Parents
7 October 1997In this update:
- Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney Visits Lori at Yanamayo
- Perú to End Faceless Courts - A Victory for Human Rights!
- Lori to Petition Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
- House of Representatives Letter to Secretary Albright
- Call to Action in the U.S. Senate
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney Visits Lori at Yanamayo
On Saturday October 4 Representative Maloney (Dem. NY) completed a 4,500 mile 3-day journey with a visit to Lori. Following their trip to Ecuador, the Congressional Delegation met with Peruvian officials, human rights groups, Ambassador Dennis Jett, and Americans incarcerated in Lima. Representative Maloney then continued on to Yanamayo Prison in Puno to meet Lori. The CBS program "60 Minutes" did not make this trip.
Lori was very happy for this visit and we are grateful to Representative Maloney for all her help on Lori's behalf. Lori wants to inform you that she is very appreciative of all your efforts which have resulted in the development and maintenance of strong Congressional interest in her case.
Lori was in very good spirits but suffering from six weeks of strep throat and laryngitis which have not responded to penicillin injection and various antibiotics prescribed by the prison doctor. There has been no improvement in the condition of her hands.
Perú to End Faceless Courts - A Victory for Human Rights!
The government of Perú has announced that on October 15 it will discontinue the infamous "faceless" courts. At this time, we do not know if this includes military as well as civilian courts. We also do not know if this means the termination of the entire anti-terrorism legislation package which allows for arrests without warrants and trials without due process by military tribunals. There has been no announcement of any plans to retry any of the thousands of political prisoners like Lori who have already been sentenced by "faceless courts." Although this is step in improving human rights in Perú, there is still a lot more to be done. We'll keep you informed on this matter.
Lori to Petition Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Lori's lawyers are now preparing to petition the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of the American States (OAS). This group can ask Perú to remedy her situation and, if necessary, they can take her case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. We fully expect Lori to win such a case but this is a very time-consuming process which can take from two to seven years.
Last week the Peruvian government agreed to abide by the Court's decision to release a Peruvian citizen who had been identified with the Shining Path. This case was very different from Lori's, involving double jeopardy.
House of Representatives Letter to Secretary Albright
The House of Representatives "Dear Colleague" letter now has 91 signatures and 13 promises of signature. We continue to press for more signatures.
Call to Action in the U.S. Senate
The Senate "Dear Colleague" letter will begin circulating this week. Please call or write to your senators and urge them to contact Michael J. Lostumbo, Legislative Assistant to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (224-4451), and sign the letter to Secretary of State Albright. If you call, emphasize that all Lori is asking for is due process and everyone, regardless of political orientation, believes that Lori deserves due process in a civilian court. The switchboard number for the Senate is 1-202-225-3121.
If you prefer to write, a sample letter is attached. Send it to your senator; United States Senate; Washington, D.C. 20510.
SAMPLE LETTER/MEMO TO SENATORS
Re: Due Process for Lori Berenson
In January 1996, Lori Berenson, an American citizen, was sentenced to life in prison by a secret Peruvian military tribunal in violation of international law. She was denied a fair public trial by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal, as required by international covenants ratified by Perú. The Peruvian anti-terrorism laws afford no due process and have been strongly criticized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch: Americas, The Carter Center for Human Rights, and other human rights organizations.
Ms. Berenson has suffered for 21 months in an excessively harsh Andean maximum security prison which endangers her health and allows her extremely limited access to family and legal counsel. She continues to claim her innocence and asks only for a trial that meets international standards of due process.
I urge you to sign the letter to Secretary of State Albright, asking her to do all within her power to impress upon the Peruvian government the importance of providing Ms. Berenson an open and fair proceeding in a civilian court without further delay. For the Senate letter, please contact Michael J. Lostumbo in Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's office (224-4451).