Despite concerns by civil society groups over the partiality of the judge involved, Peru’s Supreme Court has rejected a request by former President Alberto Fujimori’s defense team to amend his 25-year sentence for human rights abuses.
The petition was filed regarding Fujimori’s role in ordering the Grupo Colina death squad to carry out killings and kidnappings in 1991 and 1992. As previously noted, the former leader’s lawyers claimed that the court system contradicted itself by naming both Fujimori and his top advisor Vladimiro Montesinos as the masterminds of two death squad cases.
The selection of Judge Javier Villa Stein to preside over the case was initially questioned by human rights groups like APRODEH and IDL because of public statements he has made in support of Fujimori in the past, but these do not appear to have played a role in the decision. As El Comercio reports, the judge told reporters that he and others on the court “could be for or against [Fujimori’s sentence], but we cannot do anything other than what is established by the code of criminal procedure.” In his ruling, Villa Stein found that there was simply no legal ground on which to review the sentence.
The AFP points out that the ruling is the second blow to Fuijmori’s defense team in recent days, as on Friday a separate court found that he was ineligible to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.
In an unexpected development, RPP reports that Fujimori’s lawyers have responded to the ruling by claiming that they plan to take his case to United Nations human rights organizations. William Castillo, the ex-leader’s defense attorney, reportedly told journalists that the Inter-American human rights system was not an option as it had shown a “political bias” against his client.
The news agency notes that IDL’s Carlos Rivera responded to the claim by pointing out that Chile’s Supreme Court granted Fujimori's extradition to Peru in 2007, proof that, in his words, “all over the world, it is possible to recognize serious civil rights violations like murder, kidnapping and disappearances.”
- While there has been plenty of recent coverage on the millions who will benefit from U.S. President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, the L.A. Times notes that many others outside the country will not, due to the aggressive deportation strategy adopted by the administration in recent years.
- It seems Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto may seek to use the recent protests over the Ayotzinapa disappearances to push for reforms to the rule of law in the country after all. Milenio reports that Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong has told journalists that this week the president will make an “important announcement” regarding areas “where there is weakness of the Mexican State…particularly in the municipalities.”
- Animal Politico brings more bad news regarding the state of Mexico’s investigations into human rights abuses: according to the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Center Prodh), only two cases of sexual torture have resulted in federal courts sentencing those responsible. The group is attempting to raise awareness of the practice, and especially of its use by law enforcement elements, in a new social media campaign called “Breaking the Silence.”
- The protests following last night’s grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, have focused international attention on the issue of proper policing and crowd control tactics. Reuters has a useful rundown of rules of engagement regarding the use of deadly force around the world, noting that officers in Venezuela and Mexico have a license to gradually escalate their responses based on the amount of violence employed by protesters.
- Following the FARC’s claims that the liberation of General Ruben Dario Alzate and other captives was being hindered by ongoing military operations, the Colombian army responded by denying that any armed activity was being conducted in Choco province, where the prisoners are being held. Adding to this tension, yesterday Colombia’s smaller ELN rebel group announced it would be enforcing a 24-hour armed curfew in its areas of influence in Choco, El Espectador reports.
- As the investigation into Brazil’s Petrobras scandal deepens, O Globo reported yesterday that the energy giant announced yesterday that it had received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requesting documents related to the inquiry.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that the Petrobras scandal has also raised questions about the involvement of the state company’s private partners, which include multinational construction companies that have won lucrative contracts ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
- Salvadoran news site El Faro offers a sobering look at a 1974 handbook used by the Central American country’s National Guard to determine whether rural suspects apprehended by soldiers were “communists.” The manual suggested questioning detained individuals about their religious beliefs, their attitudes towards the United States, and their voting preferences in order to identify potential insurgents.
- A court in El Salvador has ruled that former President Francisco Flores, accused of embezzling millions during his 1999-2004 presidency, can be held under house arrest due to health concerns. La Prensa Grafica reports, however, that the ruling has been appealed by prosecutors to a higher court.
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