Perú: New Incidents of Police Brutality Perpetrated By “Serenazgo” Officers And Troops of Lima Municipality

SUMMARY

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned about recent arrests of LGBT community by the Peruvian law enforcement agents. We have already worked with Peruvian activists to denounce abuses against gay bars and trans sex workers perpetrated by serenazgo officers in December 2005 and March 2006. The serenazgo is a security body active in Lima city, whose legal attributions are not yet clearly specified by law.

On July 14, serenazgo officers broke into three discos patronized by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people. The intervention began like a routine inspection, but intrusion by serenazgo troops resulted in violence. Officers blocked the exit and beat and insulted the disco owners, workers, and patrons, while also videotaping the violence. The intervention didn’t have the obligatorily presence of Peru National Police or Prosecutor Office representatives.

Lima City officers explained that the operative was carried out because “the establishments did not have a license to operate, nor a security certificate.” Mario Vargas, director of Lima City Auditing and Control Department, stated that “the fight against illegal (activities) and clandestine prostitution will continue, without stop.”

The owners of the three establishments already submitted a formal complaint to police authorities and had their injuries certified by a police doctor. At the same time, lawyers from Grupo LTGB Legal and Mhol are devising strategies to submit a complaint to the Ombudsman Office, to sue the Serenazgo for abuse of authority, to demand protection for the victims, and to send a legal warning to the media that has misrepresented the facts and affected the right to privacy of those involved.

On the other hand, activists from Red Peruana LTGB will send an open letter to the Lima City Mayor requesting a meeting with representatives from LTGB and human rights organizations.

ACTION

IGLHRC joins activists from Grupo LTGB Legal and Movimiento Homosexual de Lima (Mhol) to ask for letters denouncing this violence and demanding a stop to the intimidation and violence caused by Serenazgo officers against gay men and transvestis in Lima.

Please find a sample letter below.

Please write to:

Luís Castañeda Lossio
Alcalde de Lima (Lima City Mayor)
Mailing address: Jr. de la Unión 300 / Jr. Conde de Superunda 177 Cercado de Lima
Email: alcalde@munlima.gob.pe
Dirección Municipal de Seguridad Ciudadana (Lima City Security Department)
Director: Carlos Manuel Asmat Dyer
Mailing address: Jr Conde Superunda 167 Oficina 401 Cercado de Lima
Email: dmsgc@munlima.gob.pe
Dirección Municipal de Fiscalización y Control (Lima City Auditing and Control Department)
Email: gfc@munlima.gob.pe

And please send a copy to:

Dra. Beatríz Merino.
Ombudsman Office
Mailing address: Jr. Ucayali 388 Cercado de Lima
Email: defensor@defensoria.gob.pe
Movimiento Homosexual de Lima
Programa para la Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos LTGB (LTGB Rights Advocacy Program)
Mailing address: Mariscal Miller 828, Jesus Maria
gromero@mhol.org.pe

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Sirs:

We write to you to state our concern about the campaign that the Lima City Security Department (“Serenazgo”) continues to carry on against travestis and gay men.

We have already denounced the violence perpetrated by Serenazgo officers. In the early hours of July 14, 2006, Serenazgo officers broke into three discos patronized by gay men and travestis - Atenas, Laberinto and Las Jarritas- and beat the owners, staff and patrons. It all started as a routine operation by Lima City Auditing and Control Department. Officers from Civilian Defense and SAT (the city tax department) visited the discos to verify compliance with current regulations but then, in a violent way, Serenazgo officers carrying sticks and wearing shields and helmets, broke in. Anyone present who dared to show any resistance was beaten. Also, they filmed the premises and intimidated the patrons. The operative was directed by Luis Alemant Caceres, from the Auditing Direction, who has already been involved in violent actions in the past. The most violent incidents took place at the bar Las Jarritas, when city officers realized that travestis and transgender individuals were present. The law does not allow city officers to break into any commercial establishments, unless they are accompanied by a Prosecutor Office representative.

We believe that it is your duty to protect the population of Lima without perpetrating acts of violence that target and discriminate against trans and gay communities. Peruvian authorities are obligated to uphold the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights and the Andean Chart to Protect and Promote Human Rights, all of which clearly condemn the abuses documented above. We hold all state actors accountable for respecting and protecting the freedom of expression of the activists denouncing this current spate of brutality and demand that you take affirmative action to ensure their safety.

We also demand that you:

  • Launch a thorough investigation of the facts. This investigation must begin with a consultation with local activists who have witnessed the brutality as well as the Ombudsman Office (who have already accepted activists denounces).
  • Punish those officers who are found responsible for violent and/or discriminatory treatment against trans and gay individuals in the course of these events.
  • Make Serenazgo’s mandate public, in such a way that citizens are made aware of them and are able to hold the Serenazgo accountable for their actions.
  • Call on citizens-- in particular organized groups working with populations that are likely to be targets of discrimination and abuse in the city-- to share their ideas about methods to harmonize the demands for security with full respect for human rights on the part of Serenazgo officers in Lima.

We look forward to your immediate attention and actions to address these urgent matters.

Sincerely,

(Name, organization and address)

BACKGROUND

We have already denounced the violence perpetrated by Serenazgo officers, that included verbal and ‘physical aggression, extortion and robbery, against a group of gay men in Plaza San Martin and a group of travestis in Avenida Petit Thouars (July 22, 2005); a travesti named Nicole (November 19, 2005); patrons of the gay pub located in Jiron Manuel del Pino (November 30, 2005); a travesti sex worker named Tatiana (January 9, 2006), a public gathering in support of trans activist Belissa Andia, who was running for the Parliament (January 28, 2006) and a travesti named Sandra (March 17, 2006).

Please check our previous Action Alerts for more details on previous incidents in which Serenazgo officers were involved:

Stop Harassment Against Gays and Travestis By Officers From Citizens' Security Department in Lima, Peru
Date: December 14, 2005

Serenazgo Officers Involved in Two Other Incidents of Brutality
Date: February 6th, 2006

and,

New Transphobic Aggression By Lima’s Serenazgo; Violence Must Stop!
Date: March 21, 2006

INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC LAW

Right to life (and to liberty and security of person) is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its Article 3; by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in its Articles 6 and 9, by the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (IAHRC) in its Articles 4 and 7.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Right to be free from discrimination and to equality before the law: Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Articles 2 and 7), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 2), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 2 and 26) and Interamerican Human Rights Convention (Articles 1 and 24).

Right to Peaceful Assembly is protected by the UDHR (Article 20), ICCPR (Article 21) and IAHRC (Article 15).

Right to Privacy: UDHR (Article 12), ICCPR (Articles 17) and IAHRC (Article 11).

Right to Freedom of Expression: UDHR (Article 19), ICCPR (Article 18), and IAHRC (Article 13).

In 2002, Peru has ratified the Andean Chart to Promote and Protect Human Rights (Carta Andina de Promoción y Protección de los Derechos Humanos). Article 10 of this Chart reaffirms the decision of Andean states to combat all forms of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and any other form of intolerance or exclusion against individuals or collectives based on race, color, sex, age, language, religion, political beliefs, nationality, sexual orientation, migratory status and any other; as well as their commitment to promote national legislation that will criminalize racial discrimination. Section F of the Chart is devoted specifically to the rights of people whose sexual orientation differs from that of the majority. Article 52 recognizes that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or choice, are entitled to the same human rights. In Article 52, signatory states commit themselves to combat all forms of discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or choice, according to national legislation and so they will pay special attention to preventing and punishing violence and discrimination against those whose sexual orientation or choice differs from that of the majority, as well as providing legal resources for effective remedy in case of damage caused by such offenses.

Law 28.237 passed by the Peruvian Parliament, instituted a new Constitutional Procedures Code for they country. It recognizes discrimination based on sexual orientation as a protected category and allows individuals to submit appeals and complaints in cases of such discrimination. Law 28.237 is in force since December 1, 2004.

Peru has ratified IICPR on April 18, 1978 and IAHRC on July 28, 1978
The UDHR is considered part of customary international law, and binding on all member States of the United Nations, like Perú, Also the Interamerican Human Rights Convention binds all OAS members.

ABOUT IGLHRC

IGLHRC
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
80 Maiden Lane, Suite 1505
New York, NY 10038
phone: 212.268.8040
fax: 212.430.6060
email: iglhrc@iglhrc.org
www.iglhrc.org

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