Enforced Disappearance Legal Database

La Cantuta v. Peru

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Jus Cogens | Systemic Practice | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Guarantees Against Impunity | Amnesties | Obligation to Criminalise | Admissibility | Guarantees of Non-Repetition | Obligation to Prevent | Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence

The Court found that although there was no specific evidence of ill-treatment whilst in detention, the Court could infer from the nature of the detention - including the systemic state practices and the failure to investigate - that the detainees were subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment including feelings of fear for their life and well-being. Further, although it could be inferred from the discovery of other remains and personal belongings in clandestine graves that those victims whose remains had not yet been found had also deprived of their lives, the Court held that until their remains were duly located and identified, the legal classification of these cases should be as enforced disappearances.

Judgment Date

November 29, 2006

Country

Peru

Judicial Body

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Articles violated

Article 1(1) [ACHR], Article 2 [ACHR], Article 4(1) [ACHR], Article 5 [ACHR], Article 5(1) [ACHR], Article 5(2) [ACHR], Article 7 [ACHR], Article 8 [ACHR], Article 25(2) [ACHR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 3 [ACHR]

Facts of the Case

In May 1991, an army detachment was established at the "La Cantuta" university near Lima, Peru. Curfews were imposed and entry to and exit from the university was controlled. In July 1992, army agents and members of a paramilitary group broke onto the campus and abducted nine students and one professor. The remains of two of the students were found in clandestine graves in 1993 whereas the other eight victims remain missing. Following the events, investigations were opened before military and civilian courts, however in 1995, amnesty laws were introduced, curtailing the possibility to investigate military, police or civilian persons that were involved in the human rights abuses perpetrated from 1980 onwards. In 2001, following the fall of the Fujimori regime, the Peruvian Supreme Court declared the inapplicability of the amnesty laws and, consequently, new investigations were commenced.

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