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Peru: ICRC's position regarding ad hoc Commission

24-03-1997 News Release 97/07

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has taken note of the establishment in Peru of an ad hoc commission to assess conditions in the country's prisons. The ICRC earnestly hopes that this will not only be a step forward in efforts to resolve the hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, but that it will also lead to an early resumption of ICRC visits to Peruvian penitentiary establishments.

Such visits have been suspended by the Peruvian authorities since the hostage situation began on 17 December 1996. Despite repeated approaches, the ICRC has not yet been authorized to resume its activities for detainees.

Moreover, in spite of its knowledge of the situation in Peruvian prisons, the ICRC is not in a position to take part in the work of the new commission. In all countries where its delegates visit detainees, the ICRC follows certain working procedures. These include having access to all detainees without discrimination, being allowed to talk to them without witnesses, and being authorized to repeat the visits. Strict adherence to these procedures guarantees the credibility of the ICRC's work, and no exception is made in any circumstances.

The ICRC has maintained a permanent presence in Peru since 1984. Its activities focus on assisting the civilian victims of armed violence in the country and visiting persons detained for security reasons.

At 17 December 1996 the ICRC was visiting 4,247 detainees in Peru in order to assess their conditions of detention. On the basis of its observations, the ICRC submitted confidential reports to the Peruvian authorities drawing attentio n to matters that required improvement in light of the applicable provisions of international humanitarian law. 

At the end of 1996 the ICRC was visiting almost 140,000 detainees in over 60 countries.