Dear Colleague Letter to Secretary-of-State Albright on behalf of Lori Berenson

From the United States Senate of the 106th Congress

June 28, 1999

This letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, urging her to facilitate a humanitarian release for Lori, was signed by 33 Senators. The signatories are listed below. If your Senators are listed please take the time to send to them a note of thanks. Letting them know that their support is appreciated will assist our future efforts.

The letter was cosponsored by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT).


April 27, 1999

The Honorable Madeleine K. Albright
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

It has been more than three years since Lori Helene Berenson, an American citizen, was sentenced to life in prison for treason by a secret Peruvian military tribunal. A recent decision by the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) about Ms. Berenson's case found Peru in violation of international law, while her deteriorating health makes attention to this matter all the more urgent.

On December 3, 1998, UNHCR, through its Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, rendered its decision on Ms. Berenson's case in Opinion No. 26/1998. It states, "[t]he deprivation of Lori Berenson's liberty is arbitrary, as it contravenes Articles 8, 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." Peru voted in favor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has both signed and ratified the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Further, the Working Group asks the Peruvian government "to adopt measures necessary to remedy the situation, in accordance with the norms and principles enunciated in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." As of this date, Peru has not adopted any such measures.

During the last three years, Ms. Berenson has developed physical ailments associated with imprisonment at a high altitude and recently spent 115 days in solitary confinement. Although she has been transferred to a lower altitude at the Socabaya prison, Ms. Berenson's health problems continue to develop; she has numbness in both her hands and at night experiences blindness in her right eye.

Many of us have previously called for an open and fair proceeding in a civilian court for Ms. Berenson. We now believe that Ms. Berenson's deteriorating health warrants humanitarian release from prison and urge you to use your authority to secure Ms. Berenson's release before her health further deteriorates.

Thank you for your consideration.


Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Max Baucus (D-MT)

Joseph Biden, Jr. (D-DE)

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

John Breaux (D-LA)

Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)

Sue Collins (R-ME)

Christopher Dodd (D-CT)

Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

Richard Durbin (D-IL)

Russell Feingold (D-WI)

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Daniel Inouye (D-HI)

James Jeffords (R-VT)

Tim Johnson (D-SD)

Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

J. Robert Kerrey (D-NE)

John Kerry (D-MA)

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Carl Levin (D-MI)

Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-AR)

Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY)

Patty Murray (D-WA)

John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV)

Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)

Charles Schumer (D-NY)

Arlen Specter (R-PA)

Robert Torricelli (D-NJ)

The following Senators agreed to send their own letters:

Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Paul Wellstone (D-MN)