A Troubled Prosecutor on a Quest in Fujimori's Peru.

AuthorNormey, Rob

Santiago Roncagliolo's Red April offers a gripping and insightful look into the terrors in Peru in 2000, especially towards Indigenous peoples.

Like Canada, Peru has a long and troubled colonial relationship with its Indigenous peoples. Today, Canada is making strides in the vital process of reconciliation with all our Indigenous citizens. One important part of that quest is passing legislation to enshrine the principles of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights (UNDRIP) in federal law. The UNDRIP Act (Bill C -15) received Royal Assent on June 21, 2021 and provides a framework for implementing UNDRIP into Canadian law.

UNDRIP creates a universal framework of standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world. It should act as an essential ethical benchmark in Canada's foreign business practices and relations with Latin American countries like Peru, which also have large Indigenous populations.

Peru's New Government

The new government of Peru, led by President Pablo Castillo, pledges to completely review and rewrite the country's constitution. Adequate protection of Indigenous rights will inevitably be a critical part of this proposed transformation. Such a review is vital given the disastrous legacy of President Alberto Fujimori, who ruled in a highly authoritarian manner from 1990 to 2000. Fujimori was responsible for a series of human rights violations,

including crimes against humanity committed as part of a violent, unconstrained counter-insurgency against Shining Path guerillas. Fujimori also allegedly associated with the Grupo Colina death squads.

The Fujimori government also oversaw a massive forced sterilization campaign. Over 215,000 Indigenous people--mostly women --were forced or threatened into sterilization. Despite being convicted of these crimes, a right-wing president initially granted him a pardon. In 2019, the Peruvian Supreme Court (Special Criminal Chamber) overturned the pardon, concluding that crimes against humanity established under the law cannot go unpunished. The Court held that the country's international obligations take precedence over a pardon granted for purely political reasons. The Executive Director of Amnesty International Peru stated in February 2019:

We have witnessed the courage and determination of the victims and their families in their tireless struggle to reclaim their rights to justice, truth and reparation. They have inspired us to speak out...

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