Monday February 06, 2023

Peru defends handling of protests in UN rights review

January 26, 2023

GENEVA: Peru´s justice minister insisted on Wednesday that the authorities had responded “appropriately”, as countries at the United Stations voiced alarm at the country´s crackdown on protests.

At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, a wide range of country representatives expressed concern over the use of “excessive force” by Peru´s authorities in the face of the demonstrations.

Civil unrest since the ousting of president Pedro Castillo in early December has left 46 people dead and prompted the government to impose a state of emergency in violence-hit areas. Peru´s current President Dina Boluarte, who served as vice president under Castillo, called on Tuesday for a “national truce” to end weeks of nationwide unrest.

But a major march in the capital calling for her resignation and fresh elections, once again resulted in violent clashes with police. During Peru´s Universal Periodic Review -- a process all 193 UN member states must undergo every four years -- Justice Minister Jose Andres Tello Alfaro stressed the country was facing “a complex situation”.

“But we are convinced that we are acting appropriately to defend democracy and human rights,” he said in a video address to the council. He denounced violence by protesters and insisted that “actions taken to restore public order have been undertaken in full compliance with constitutional and international obligations”.

Peru´s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Luis Chuquihuara Chil, told the council that amid the ongoing protests, “Peru is respecting and fully committed to peaceful demonstrations”. Security forces, he said, were working to “restore social peace” after some protesters were “involved in aggressive violence against public assets, against other citizens.

He reiterated that the government was committed to investigating any abuses. While many of the diplomats welcomed that, they nevertheless expressed concern at the ongoing violence.

Danish representative Astrid Ruge voiced alarm at “the number of persons killed and injured as a result of security forces´ response to protests”, urging Peru to “limit excessive use of force.” British ambassador Simon Manley called for “a proportionate and legal response to protests”.