For six days, since Monday night, the National Police of Peru has been harshly repressing in the center of Lima the protests of thousands of young people against the interim government of Manuel Merino, accused of links with political sectors linked to corruption. The serious open political crisis in the country has led to a succession of three presidents in 10 days. In the night of greatest violence against the unarmed protesters, last Saturday, the agents caused two deaths by pellets, Inti Sotelo and Jack Bryan Pintado, and more than 200 injured or suffocated, of which 63 required hospitalization. A mission to this The United Nations has been evaluating the impact of the crisis on human rights since Tuesday. Jan Jarab, visible head of the mission and representative of UN Rights for South America, notes in an interview with El PAÍS that they found five patterns of human rights violations in the actions of the police, from the misuse of less lethal weapons to the obstruction of the work of human rights defenders or arbitrary arrests.
Jarab explains that the team intends not only to describe what happened, but to see “what structural reasons besides the political crisis contributed to that situation”, to make recommendations to the authorities and guarantee that it is not repeated. The mission has met with authorities from the three powers of the State, journalists, injured protesters and the relatives of the deceased, among others. She was also received by the police leadership that led the repression actions, and her attitude has generated “strong concern,” says Jarab. “In its public pronouncements and in its presentation to us, the National Police continues to deny human rights violations, it continues to defend its conduct. From our perspective, to guarantee non-repetition it is necessary to identify what failed ”, explains the United Nations representative.
After the first serious injuries caused by the shooting of the agents on the night of Thursday 12, the Minister of the Interior of the previous transitory government, Gastón Rodríguez, said that the use of the pellets was restricted and that it had been used in a minimal way, contradicting what the radio and television reporters broadcast live and the videos on TikTok that the protesters recorded.
The following day, the acting Prime Minister of Merino, Antero Flores Araoz, visited a police station, also accompanied by Rodríguez, to congratulate the repression of the protests. Jarab confirmed that according to the first tax examinations, several of the injured received the impact of metal pellets in the upper part of the body.
The outrage caused by the police action and the consequent death of the young Sotelo and Pintado, who protested against the Congress and the interim government – like tens of thousands baptized as the ‘Bicentennial Generation’ – led to the resignation of some ministers of that cabinet and the withdrawal of support from several of Merino’s allied congressmen. At noon on Sunday, he had to resign.
The head of the mission to this considers that the human rights crisis experienced in recent days in Lima cannot be overcome only through criminal justice. “The investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office is extremely important to determine the responsibilities of the immediate perpetrators and their hierarchical superiors, but the dimension of truth, reparation and non-repetition is also urgent: and this cannot wait until the issues are resolved. cases in the criminal dimension ”, he expressed.
UN envoys have found five patterns of human rights violations by the Peruvian police during the crackdown on demonstrations this month: the misuse of less lethal weapons, the use of plainclothes policemen to infiltrate the marches and making arrests, hindering the work of human rights defenders, arbitrary arrests, and harassment and aggression against journalists. 35 men and women of the press were injured or attacked while covering the protests, according to the National Association of Journalists.
“We know that weapons can become lethal if they are used incorrectly, and it is not only the pellets, but the excessive and massive use of tear gas,” explained the United Nations representative. Jarab highlighted, in addition to the attacks on journalists, a statement by Flores Araoz, who in an interview on state television said that the press should not broadcast the marches because they exacerbated the protest.
“This is a worrying and repressive panorama. Something unacceptable is that the criminal prosecution of the lawyer for the National Human Rights Coordinator, Carlos Rodríguez (who was detained in a police station when he asked to read the record of arbitrarily detained citizens) continues. He was exercising his role, and having been criminalized, (the police) affected the ability of the NGO to defend the human rights of the detainees, ”said the head of the mission. to this.
The team returns to Chile this Sunday and plans to issue its report of conclusions, recommendations and proposals to the Peruvian government before the end of the year.
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