Former Peruvian president granted divisive pardon

By: Emily Green
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru – Alberto Fujimori ruled Peru in the 1990s and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses and corruption. On Sunday, Peru’s current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, granted him a medical pardon.

Protestors gather outside of the hospital where Fujimori is being treated. Image Courtesy of Guadalupe Pardo.

Fujimori expressed his gratitude to President Kuczynski in a video from his hospital bed. He explains that the pardon had a strong impact on him, creating “a mix of extreme happiness as well as sorrow.” He stated, “I’m aware that the results produced by my government were well received by some, but I recognize that I have let down others. Those I ask for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart.”

Fujimori suspended civil liberties and oversaw a violent crackdown on the opposition during his presidency from 1990 to 2000. In 2007, he was extradited from Chile and sentenced to jail for six years on charges of bribery and abuse of power. Two years later, he was sentenced to another 25 years for human rights abuses from his rule. Fujimori was convicted of authorizing military death squads.

Critics denounce the pardon and claim it was motivated by a desire to reward Fujimori’s son, Kenji. The congressman helped the president survive a crucial impeachment vote last week when the conservative Popular Force party, who controls Congress, tried to impeach him over a corruption scandal. However, they failed because Kenji split the party’s vote, thus allowing the president to stay in power.

President Kuczynski’s office states that he granted a “humanitarian pardon” to Fujimori and seven other people in similar condition. Doctors have declared that he has a progressive, degenerative, and incurable illness.

However, protestors rallied as soon as the pardon came to light and claim that the pardon was carried out in an illegal manner. They say the president was trying to save his own skin and the pardon was treason. One protestor stated, “The reality is that this sadly was a political agreement between the Fujimorists and the current government.”

Activists and protestors gathered by the thousands in Lima, the capital, in late December. Human rights experts and political analysts join in the criticism. President Kuczynski pardoned one of the few Latin American strongmen who has been held accountable in judicial proceedings for abuses committed during his reign. The South American representative for the UN High Commission for Human Rights claims that “not putting victims at the center of this decision derails the progress the Peruvian state has made on truth, justice, memory, and reparations.”

The pardon has already cost the president the support of three allies in Congress. They resigned in protest and leave him with only 15 allies left in the lawmaking body.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Peru’s Alberto Fujimori speaks after divisive pardon – 26 December 2017

NY Times – From a Hospital Bed, Alberto Fujimori Asks Peru to ‘Forgive Me’ – 26 December 2017

Latina – Thousands of Peruvians Protest the Pardon of Former President Fujimori – 26 December 2017

Bloomberg – Peru’s President Back Under Fire for Freeing Leader – 26 December 2017

CNN – Peru’s ex-leader Fujimori asks for forgiveness amid heated protests – 26 December 2017

Author: Emily Green

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