Leahy Statement On The Situation In Peru

Mr. President, I want to speak briefly about the unfolding political crisis, which is also a crisis for justice, in Peru.

Peru transitioned to democracy in 2000, after two decades of internal armed conflict and authoritarian rule.  The country has made important strides in rebuilding its democratic institutions, consolidating the rule of law, and combatting impunity.  But today, efforts by a majority in the Peruvian Congress to arbitrarily remove judges from the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, and to oust the Attorney General for courageously doing his job, threaten to undermine those gains and reverse Peru’s democratic progress. 

As a former prosecutor and the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am especially concerned about the attempt by the majority in Peru’s Congress to impeach Attorney General Pablo Sánchez in the midst of his office’s investigation into allegations that the presidential campaign of Keiko Fujimori received illegal contributions in 2011. The effort to remove Attorney General Sánchez strongly suggests a deliberate strategy to obstruct justice and to undermine the autonomy of the Attorney General’s Office.  This would represent a grave setback for hard-fought gains to reestablish an independent judiciary and the rule of law in Peru.  It would have serious ramifications for U.S.- Peruvian relations.

Credible allegations of corruption must be thoroughly investigated, without prejudice to party or power, and with due process for the accused.  I urge members of Peru’s Congress to support those who are acting on behalf of the Peruvian people in the pursuit of truth and justice.  Key to this is respect for the autonomy of the Office of the Attorney General and of the Constitutional Tribunal, institutions that are guarantors of human rights and the rule of law. 

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