Practice Relating to Rule 98. Enforced Disappearance
Section C. Investigation of enforced disappearance
Peru’s Law on the National Information Register on Disappeared Persons (2003) states:
The objectives of the [National Information] Register [on Disappeared Persons] shall be to centralize and organize information from across the country in a database containing consolidated information on disappeared persons, as well as on persons located in health care centres, shelters, detention or internment centres, and on any persons that have been located.
Peru’s Regulations to the Law on the National Information Register on Disappeared Persons (2003) states: “Any person who comes to know of the whereabouts of a disappeared person, whether or not he or she reported the fact [i.e. the disappearance], has the obligation to inform the police authorities.”
The Regulations also states: “Any police officer who receives information on the whereabouts of a disappeared person must inform the [National Information] Register [on Disappeared Persons] immediately.”
The Regulations further states:
Every member of staff of the Public Administration, Judiciary or the Prosecutor’s Office who receives a report or information regarding disappeared persons, or who in any other way comes to know of a situation as described in Article 22, must inform the Register immediately.
In 2004, in the Genaro Villegas Namuche case, Peru’s Constitutional Court found:
Besides having a collective dimension, the right to know the truth has an individual dimension. The holders of this individual right are the victims, their relatives and persons close to them. The right to know the circumstances in which human rights violations were committed and, in the case of death or disappearance, to know the fate of the victims, shall not be subject to a statute of limitations. Persons directly or indirectly affected by a crime of this magnitude shall always have a right to know, amongst others, who committed the crime, when, where, how and why the victim was executed, and the location of his or her remains, even if much time has passed since the commission of the crime.
The Court also stated that “in cases of human rights violations, the rights of the victim shall not be limited to obtaining financial compensation, but also include the state’s obligation to investigate the case.”
In 2004, in its fourth periodic report to the Committee against Torture, Peru stated:
263. The judgment of the Constitutional Court in a case of forced disappearance of persons stands out in particular. In the Court’s ruling (Order No. 2488-2002-HC/TC) of 18 March 2004 regarding Mr. Genaro Villegas Namuche, a victim of forced disappearance, the right to truth was recognized as a new fundamental right. Thus, although it is not expressly recognized in Peru’s Political Constitution, the right to truth is fully protected, arising in the first place from the State’s obligation to defend fundamental rights and from the protection of the courts. Nevertheless, the Constitutional Court considered that, wherever reasonably possible and in special and unprecedented cases, implicit constitutional rights must be developed so as to allow better protection of and respect for human rights, since this will help strengthen democracy and the State, in accordance with the terms of the current Constitution.
264. In the considerations to which the judgment refers, the Court establishes the limits of application of the right to truth. According to the Court, the right is two-dimensional, being both collective and individual. …
265. Alongside … [the] collective dimension, the right to truth has an individual dimension, whose beneficiaries include victims, their families and their relatives. It resides in the knowledge of the circumstances in which human rights violations were committed and, in the event of decease or disappearance, of the fate which befell the victims as such, a knowledge that cannot be subject to time limitation. It must be remembered that the right of victims and their relatives is not limited to obtaining economic reparation, but also includes the need for the State to undertake an investigation into the facts, considering that a full knowledge of the circumstances of each case is also part of a form of moral reparation which the country and in the event the victims require for their enjoyment of democracy.
273. The forced disappearance of persons was a practice used systematically in Peru during the internal armed conflict which the country experienced during the decade of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, as a consequence of the activities of terrorist groups and of the State’s response to subversion.
[emphasis in original; footnote in original omitted]