Peru: authorities must respect the rule of law amid the political crisis

Peruvian authorities in all three branches of government should strive to strengthen the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers in the wake of the political crisis that led to the arrest of former President Pedro Castillo yesterday after he tried to dissolve Congress, take control of the judiciary and declare a state of emergency, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said today.

Yesterday, Pedro Castillo was removed from office by Peru’s Congress, after which he was arrested on charges of Rebellion. These events followed a failed attempt by Castillo to unlawfully dissolve Congress in reaction to his being confronted with impeachment charges for alleged “moral incapacity”. Vice President Dina Boluarte was sworn in as President following Castillo’s removal.

“The ICJ condemns the attempt of former President Castillo to dissolve congress and assume emergency powers under which he would seek to interfere in the judicial branch. Implementing these measures would have further broken the separation and balance of powers between the branches of government, eroded the rule of law,” said ICJ Secretary General Sam Zarifi.

Castillo was elected 17 months ago after promising to fight corruption and end poverty. He quickly faced investigations of corruption by members of his family. Castillo had already been subject to two impeachment motions by Congress.

Castillo is Peru’s sixth president in the past four years, after two former presidents also had their terms cut short after facing two impeachment motions each: President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned in 2018 before Congress could vote on his impeachment, and his successor, Martín Vizcarra, was ousted in 2020 after dissolving Congress the previous year.

“As the ousted President faces criminal charges, we remind the Peruvian authorities that they must respect the right to a fair trial and due process of law, as provided under the Peruvian Constitution and their obligations under international human rights law,” said Zarifi.

The ICJ calls on all Peruvian authorities to fully abide by the rule of law and ensure the protection of human rights as they work to overcome the political instability in the country.