C.I.D.H. takes on Berenson case

Nicaragua Solidarity Network of NY -- Weekly News Update (#659) on the Americas: Sept. 15, 02

The Inter-American Human Rights Court (CIDH), based in Costa Rica, announced on Sept. 6 that it will consider the case of US activist Lori Berenson, jailed in Peru since late 1995 on charges of actively supporting the rebel Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Berenson contends that she was denied due process in her 2001 civilian retrial, in which she was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The basis for considering the Berenson case is a recommendation from the DC-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Peruvian government's appeal of the recommendation. The IACHR issued a recommendation to the Peruvian government in July that Berenson's retrial was unfair. The Peruvian government appealed to the CIDH, which has the final say on IACHR cases [see Update #651]. The CIDH has one year in which to make a ruling; possible decisions, according to Peruvian jurists, are Berenson's immediate release, another trial or confirmation of the Peruvian court's decision. [La Republica (Lima) 9/12/02]

Peruvian foreign minister Allan Wagner Tizon said on Sept. 12 that his government will comply with the CIDH's decision, whatever it may be. However, Luis Solari de la Fuente, president of the Council of Ministers, said on Sept. 12 that the Peruvian government will prove to the CIDH that Berenson was tried with full respect for due process. [La Republica (Lima) 9/13/02] Speaking in Washington on Sept. 14, President Alejandro Toledo also said Peru would comply with the CIDH decision, but warned that his government would not take any measures that might allow "terrorism" to resurface in Peru. [La Republica (Lima) 9/15/02]