Peru passes bill to scrap war crimes prosecutions

Peru’s Congress passed a bill Thursday that would bar prosecution of crimes against humanity committed before 2002, a move that could benefit convicted ex-president Alberto Fujimori and hundreds of former soldiers accused of abuses.

The bill to set a statute of limitations for such crimes was approved by a majority of lawmakers despite a call from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) for it to be shelved.

If signed into law by the president, the initiative will scrap investigations that are underway into crimes committed during Peru’s internal conflict, which left some 69,000 dead and 21,000 disappeared between 1980 and 2000.

It is not clear if it will also allow for convictions to be overturned, but the IACHR has said the bill would “promote impunity in all cases from the internal armed conflict.”

Fujimori was sent to prison in 2009 over massacres committed by army death squads in 1991 and 1992 in which 25 people, including a child, were killed in what the government said were anti-terrorist operations.

Last December, Peru’s Constitutional Court ordered him freed for humanitarian reasons, reinstating a pardon that was first granted in 2017 but revoked by the Supreme Court two years later.

The Costa Rica-based IACHR urged authorities at the time to delay freeing Fujimori while it analyzed the court ruling, but he was released anyway.

Fujimori, 85 and in failing health, is also facing trial over the killing by soldiers of six farmers in a separate case from 1992.