Peru experienced violent internal conflict between 1980-2000 that resulted in the death and disappearance of about 69,000 people, as well as 600,000 people being displaced internally. Thousands more were imprisoned and tortured. Economic losses numbered in the thousands of millions.
The Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement terrorist groups and the Peruvian government were directly responsible for human rights abuses during this period of violence. The violence ended in 2000, when Alberto Fujimori lost power. A truth and reconciliation commission was created in Peru in 2001 to investigate human rights violations and develop recommendations for reform and reconciliation.
The Advocates for Human Rights began contributing to the success of transitional justice in Peru when it sent a team of 10 volunteers to the country in November 2002. The team participated as international observers in the Truth and Reconciliation Process (TRC) process.
The Advocates began working in Peru after Paz y Esperanza (Peace and Hope), one of the main Peruvian non-governmental human rights organizations that worked with the TRC, requested that The Advocates monitor the transitional justice process.
In November 2002, The Advocates' team conducted fact-finding in both Lima and Ayacucho (the region where the most human rights abuses occurred). Team members interviewed victims, witnesses, legal advocates, human rights organizations, commissioners, judges, prosecutors, and police. The team also interviewed Peruvian government representatives from the executive branch, the Ministry of Justice, the Human Rights Ombudsman's office, and U.S. embassy staff. The delegation visited two prisons and a torture treatment center, and observed the TRC-sponsored exhumation of two mass grave sites in Lucanamarca. (The exhumations were conducted following the guidelines set forth in the Minnesota Protocol, created by The Advocates for Human Rights and later adopted by the United Nations.)
The Advocates returned to Peru with a five-person delegation in August 2004, the one-year anniversary of the TRC's release of its final report. The goal of the trip was to monitor the Peruvian government's implementation of the TRC’s recommendations for reparations and institutional reforms. Team members conducted more than 50 follow-up fact-finding interviews in Lima, Ayacucho, and affected rural communities in the Ayacucho region. Interviewees included human rights organizations and other civil society groups, former commissioners, judges, prosecutors and police, as well as with members of Congress and the executive branch's Multi-Sectoral Commission, a body charged with carrying out the TRC's recommendations. The delegation also met with the Peruvian Minister of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, team members inspected the documentation center housing TRC records and the TRC-sponsored photo exhibit chronicling the political violence in Peru.
In addition, The Advocates presented written statements on the Peruvian TRC process at the 2003, 2004, and 2005 meetings of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights. In 2004 and 2005, The Advocates presented an oral statement on the TRC processes in both Peru and Sierra Leone.
The Advocates' team received significant media attention while in Peru, helping to legitimize the TRC process by bringing it to the attention to the Peruvian public and other nations. And the presence of international observers put pressure on the Peruvian government to comply with the commission's recommendations.