20 January 1999

Further information on UA 318/98 issued 23 December 1998

Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

PERU Lori Helene Berenson

Lori Helene Berenson, a US citizen convicted of the terrorism-related crime of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Peruvian military court in January 1996, has now been in solitary confinement since 7 October 1998 in Socabaya prison, in Arequipa department.

Amnesty International has been urging the Peruvian authorities since 23 December 1998 to bring Lori Berenson's total isolation to an end immediately. Prolonged solitary confinement can cause severe and lasting physical and psychological damage and amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

In addition, the organization has now learnt that since January 1999, when there was a changeover of prison personnel, the guards who bring her food and escort her daily to her one hour yard time will not speak to her.

Amnesty International believes that Lori Berenson is being subjected to cruel and inhuman punishment. Her transfer from Yanamayo prison last October appeared to be because of her poor health and her need of medical attention. However, she has not yet received the medical tests that she needs. Thus the organization believes that the Peruvian authorities have singled her out for punishment.

In February 1998 Congress approved a law on crimes against humanity, including torture, which states that 'El funcionario o servidor publico o cualquier persona, con el consentimiento o aquiescencia de aquel, que inflija a otro dolores o sufrimientos graves, sean fisicos o mentales, o lo someta a condiciones o metodos que anulen su personalidad o disminuyan su capacidad fisica o mental...con el fin...de castigarla por cualquier hecho que haya cometido o se sospecha que haya cometido...sera reprimido con pena privativa de libertad...' (Any civil servant, public official or person acting with the consent or acquiescence of the former, who inflicts pain or suffering to others, be they physical or mental, or who subjects a person to conditions or methods which deny their personality or diminish their physical or mental capacity ...in order to...punish them for anything they have done or are believed to have done...will be imprisoned...')

Amnesty International believes that the conditions under which Lori Berenson is imprisoned contravene this law and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Peru is a state party. If the Peruvian authorities are serious about following both the spirit and the letter of international as well as domestic law then Lori Berenson's isolation has to end immediately.

Further Recommended Action

Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/ airmail letters:

Appeals To:


Minister of Justice:

    Sra Maria Carlota Valenzuela de Puelles
    Ministra de Justicia
    Ministerio de Justicia
    Scipion Llona 350
    Lima 18, PERU

    Telegrams: Minister Justice, Lima, Peru
    Faxes:011 511 422 3577

Sra. Ministra:

President of the National Penitentiary Institute:

    General PNP Juan Nakandakari Kanashiro
    Presidente del Consejo Penitenciario
    Instituto Nacional Penitenciario
    Jr. Carabaya 456
    Lima 1, PERU

    Faxes:011 511 427 0624

Dear President:

Prison Governor:

    Sr. Director
    Establecimiento Penal de Socabaya

    Telegrams: Prison Governor, Socabaya, Arequipa, Peru

Dear Governor:

Copies To:

Please send appeals immediately. Check with the Colorado office between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, Mountain Time, weekdays only, if sending appeals after March 4, 1999.