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:
- expressing concern that Lori Berenson is still in solitary confinement in Socabaya Prison, which amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment;
- urging that Lori Berenson's total isolation be brought to an end immediately;
- reminding the government of Peru of its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular Article 5: 'No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman ro degrading treatment or punishment'.
Minister of Justice:
Sra Maria Carlota Valenzuela de Puelles
Telegrams: Minister Justice, Lima, Peru
President of the National Penitentiary Institute:
General PNP Juan Nakandakari Kanashiro
Faxes:011 511 427 0624
Telegrams: Prison Governor, Socabaya, Arequipa, Peru
Human Rights Organization
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Jr. Tupac Amaru 2467
Lima 14, PERU
Ambassador Ricardo V. Luna
Embassy of Peru
1700 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20036
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.