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Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
    << Back to Peru National Security

    Just as Peru's armed forces and police were buffeted by a number of challenges during the 1980s, so too were the country's judicial and penal systems. Despite the return to civilian government in 1980 under the constitution of 1979 and the widespread expectation at the time that this would also normalize the application and administration of justice, such was not to be the case. The recurring economic crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s prevented providing the judicial branch with the constitutionally mandated 2 percent of the government budget. In 1989 the sum appropriated was 1.4 percent; in 1990 it was 0.9 percent, or about US$15 million. The economic difficulties also contributed to increases in crime rates as more of the population struggled to cope with rising unemployment and underemployment. Recorded crimes of all types increased from 210,357 in 1980 to 248,670 in 1986, or by 18 percent; these data of the General Police (PG) and the Technical Police (PT) were believed to underrepresent actual figures.

    Incomplete data resulted in part from the growing number of provinces during the 1980s under states of emergency because of insurgent activity (almost half of Peru's 183 provinces by mid1991 ). The states of emergency suspended constitutional guarantees of due process and freedom of movement and assembly, and placed all executive branch authority in local military commands. Many actions by military and insurgents alike were often not reported as crimes.

    The guerrillas also threatened judicial branch officials at all levels and killed some, so that at times large numbers of openings, particularly at the lower levels, were much delayed in being filled. (In 1989, for example, over one-third of Peru's 4,583 justice of the peace positions were vacant.) The combination of vacancies and intimidation then further delayed judicial resolution of pending cases; a mere 3.1 percent of crimes committed in 1980 resulted in sentences, only 2.6 percent in 1986. Of the approximately 40,000 inmates in Peru's 111 to 114 prisons in 1990, 80 percent were waiting to be tried and nearly 10 percent had completed their sentences but remained in jail, according to the head of the Minister of Interior's National Institute of Prisons (Instituto Nacional Penitenciario--Inpe). Concern was also expressed that many of the justices and judicial branch employees replaced during the 1985-90 APRA government were selected more by political rather than judicial criteria. In short, a situation that had always been far from satisfactory became even less so by 1990.

    One result of President Fujimori's autogolpe of April 5, 1992, was the suspension and reorganization of Peru's judiciary. As of October, over half of the twenty-five Supreme Court judges had been replaced, along with scores of judicial officials at other levels. Among other post-April 5 changes were decrees defining terrorism as treason, thereby placing trials for alleged actions in military courts as well as extending sentences from a twenty-year maximum to life imprisonment without parole.

    The economic crises, the insurgency, and the drug trafficking were major contributors to rising crime rates in the 1980s. Illegal drug-trafficking crimes recorded by the PG between 1980 and 1986 increased by 67 percent, almost four times the rate of growth of crime overall. Drug-trafficking arrests between 1985 and 1988 totaled about 4,500, but were a small fraction of all arrests for alleged crimes for the period (574,393 total arrests, almost 3 percent of Peru's population). Guerrilla attacks during the Belaúnde government (1980-85) totaled 5,880, with deaths attributed to the subversion coming to 8,103. These levels increased during the García government (1985-90) to 11,937 insurgent actions associated with over 9,660 deaths. Extrajudicial disappearances during the 1980s, most often linked to the army and police in the emergency zones, approached 5,000. From July 28, 1990, to June 30, 1992, the first two years of the Fujimori administration, 2,990 incidents and 6,240 deaths were recorded.

    Data as of September 1992

    NOTE: The information regarding Peru on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Peru CRIME AND PUNISHMENT information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Peru CRIME AND PUNISHMENT should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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