Perú: New Transphobic Aggression By Lima’s Serenazgo. Violence Must Stop!

RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION
RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM TORTURE, CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT
RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF PERSON
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
RIGHTS OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

On March 17, six “Serenazgo” officers brutally attacked Sandra, a transvestite, in Lima. They also tried to rob her. The whole incident happened in the presence of a police officer who – rather than stopping the attackers- cheered and encouraged them. Claveles Rojos – a trans organization based in Lima- has helped Sandra to denounce the incident, the latest in a series started in July 2005 (see “Background Information” for a record of our previous Action Alerts regarding this situation).

ACTION

IGLHRC joins Claveles Rojos in asking you to write URGENT letters to the powers that be in Lima. Demand that Serenazgo officers immediately stop their violence against Lima transvestites. Demand that police take action against this and any future acts of violence against trans individuals.

Below is a model letter written in Spanish, followed by an English translation. We request that you send your letter in Spanish to the authorities listed below.

Please send your letters to:

Luís Castañeda Lossio
Alcalde de Lima (Lima Major)
Address: Jr. de la Unión 300 / Jr. Conde de Superunda 177 Cercado de Lima
Email: alcalde@munlima.gob.pe
Dirección Municipal de Seguridad Ciudadana (Citizenship’ Security Department)
Director: Carlos Manuel Asmat Dyer
Address: Jr Conde Superunda 167 Oficina 401 Cercado de Lima
Email: dmsgc@munlima.gob.pe

Please send copies to:

Dra. Beatríz Merino.
Obusman
Email: defensor@defensoria.gob.pe
A.P. Nº 4403, Lima 100, Perú
Claveles Rojos
clavelesrojos@runa.org.pe
clavelesrojos3@yahoo.com

Spanish Letter (see English below)

Estimados Señores/
Estimada señora:

Les escribimos para expresar nuestra seria preocupación por la campaña de violencia contra las travestis que continúa llevando a cabo la Dirección Municipal de Seguridad Ciudadana de Lima Metropolitana (“Serenazgo”), en la zona de la Avenida Petit Thouars.

Anteriormente ya denunciamos las agresiones sufridas el 31 de diciembre de 2005 por la travesti Tatiana; 19 de noviembre por la travesti Nicole y el 30 de noviembre por los clientes del pub gay ubicado en el Jirón Manuel del Pino, que se suman a los hechos de violencia ocurridos el 22 de julio del mismo año contra un grupo de gays en Plaza San Martín y contra un grupo de travestis en la Avenida Petit Thouars.

El 17 de marzo se sumó a los anteriores un nuevo hecho lamentable: seis efectivos del Serenazgo golpearon brutalmente a la travesti Sandra, a la que intentaron despojar del dinero que llevaba en su bolsa –todo ello en la Avenida Petit Thouars. Como agravante, cabe señalar que un agente de la Policía Nacional observó todo el incidente y, en lugar de cumplir con su deber de detener a los agresores y proteger a la víctima, incitó a los efectivos del Serenazgo a continuar adelante con su despliegue de violencia.

Consideramos que el trabajo de garantizar la seguridad de la ciudad de Lima que está a vuestro cargo puede perfectamente realizarse sin llevar a cabo actos de violencia, y sin agredir a determinadas comunidades en particular, por el solo hecho de ser quienes son, lo que constituye trato discriminatorio. El Perú es signatario de varios tratados internacionales de Derechos Humanos –entre ellos el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos, la Convención Americana de Derechos Humanos y la Carta Andina de Protección y Promoción a los Derechos Humanos- todos los cuales condenan esta clase de actos y obligan a los representantes del estado peruano a no cometerlos y a sancionar a quienes los cometan. Consideramos también que quienes denuncian las arbitrariedades merecen protección especial.

Solicitamos a ustedes lo siguiente:

  • Realizar una investigación exhaustiva sobre los hechos denunciados por Claveles Rojos, que deberá comenzar por convocar a las/os activistas, así como a la Defensoría del Pueblo (que ya ha aceptado las denuncias presentadas sobre este tema) a que se reúnan con ustedes y les presenten los hechos.
  • Proteger debidamente a las personas que han denunciado actos de violencia cometidos por agentes del Serenazgo
  • Sancionar debidamente a los efectivos que resulten culpables de haber ejercido violencia y/o trato discriminatorio contra travestis y homosexuales en estos hechos.
  • Investigar al agente de policía que presenció la agresión contra Sandra el 17 de marzo sin intervenir y si se confirman los dichos de la víctima, sancionarlo debidamente.
  • Hacer públicas las atribuciones, responsabilidades y derechos del Serenazgo, de manera tal que toda la ciudadanía pueda conocerlas y exigir su cumplimiento por parte de los funcionarios involucrados.
  • Convocar a la ciudadanía –y especialmente a los grupos organizados que trabajan con las poblaciones objeto de discriminación y maltrato en la ciudad- para aportar sus puntos de vista acerca de cómo podrían conjugarse la protección ciudadana con el respeto irrestricto a los derechos humanos por parte de las fuerzas de seguridad en Lima.

Quedamos a la espera de su respuesta y de sus acciones futuras en este tema.

Cordialmente,

(nombre, organización y dirección)


English version:

Dear Sirs,

We write to you to express our deep concern about the incidents of violence against transvestites perpetrated by officers of the Dirección Municipal de Seguridad Ciudadana de Lima Metropolitana (“Serenazgo”).

A few months ago, we denounced the abuses perpetrated on December 31, 2005, against a transvestite named Tatiana; on November 30 against the patrons of the pub Jirón Manuel del Pino; on November 19 against a transvestite named Nicole. We also denounced earlier incidents of brutality that took place on July 22, 2005 against a group of gay men in Plaza San Martín and a group of transvestites in Avenida Petit Thouars.

On March 17, 2006, yet another incident occurred in Lima: six Serenazgo officers brutally attacked a transvestite named Sandra, and attempted to rob her of the money she had in her purse. The whole incident, which happened on Petit Thouars Avenue, was compounded by the presence of a police officer who, instead of fulfilling his obligation to stop the attackers and protect the victim, encouraged the Serenazgo officers to carry on with their display of violence.

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 brought forth by Claveles Rojos. This investigation must begin with a consultation with local activists who have witnessed the brutality.
  • Punish those officers who are found responsible for violent and/or discriminatory treatment against trans and gay individuals in the course of these events.
  • Properly investigate the police officer who witnessed the attack against Sandra on March 17. If the victim’s statements that said officer failed to intervene are found to be true, we demand that he be punished according to the law.
  • Provide adequate protection to those denouncing Serenazgo brutality.
  • 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

For details on previous incidents, please check our Action Alerts “Serenazgo Officers Involved in Two Other Incidents of Brutality” (February 6, 2006) and “Stop Harassment Against Gays and Transvestites By Officers From Citizens' Security Department in Lima, Peru” (December 14, 2005).

What follows is our translation of Claveles Rojos’ report on the latest developments:

“In the early hours of March 17, at around 3.30, a Serenazgo team was ‘combing out’ the Petit Thours Avenue, in Lima, when they spotted Sandra – a transvestite who usually hangs around the area. The team was made up of 6 officers, traveling in a double-decker van and accompanied by a National Police officer. Sandra knew very well what it meant to be approached by a Serenazgo team and, instinctively, ran as fast as she could to Avenue Militar at Bartolome Herrera Street. There, the transphobic team intercepted her. The six men started beating her with sticks, shoving and kicking her around, and verbally attacking her. She was dragged by her hair, and her blouse and jeans were torn apart. Serenazgo officers took her purse, with the 80 Soles (24 US$) she had made during the night. They also wanted to take away her high-heeled shoes, but she resisted. The men shouted, “Let us take everything, do not resist, stop screaming!” But Sandra was not willing to part from her shoes and the officers, feeling furious and frustrated before her resistance, stuck a blade into the back of her left thigh. The National Police officer watched the aggression unmoved, and his only intervention was to encourage the Serenazgo men to move forward with robbing Sandra.

“Alejandra, who is Sandra’s neighbor, came to see us that night and told us about the incident. We went immediately to see Sandra and took her to the Lince Police Station. At first, the officer was reluctant to take a complaint. When he realized that we knew it was his duty to take it, he had no choice but to register a complaint of abuse against Lima’s Serenazgo and Luis Castañeda Lossio, head of the organization. At first, the officer argued that we had not come to the Police Station immediately after the aggression to register the complaint, that many hours had gone by, that Sandra did not have an ID, that we had to take the complaint to the Attorney’s Office, etc.

“Concerned about her wound, Sandra took antibiotics on her own, without checking with a doctor. It would have been ideal for her to go to a hospital to have the tetanus vaccination applied, her wound cleaned and the entire procedure overseen by a qualified health professional. However, many transvestites do not go to hospitals because they are not treated properly there; many prefer to instead follow the advice of their friends.

“We will continue following the case closely. Tomorrow, Sandra has to see the Police Doctor. Then she will testify for the inquiry, opened by the Lince Police Station, with regard to this flagrant violation of human rights. We have visited several districts in Lima City and everywhere we have heard complaints by transvestites against the Serenazgos-- sometimes accompanied by National Police officers-- who act like criminals despite being part of institutions dedicated to enforcing the law. We will take this new case to the Ombudsman office, and it will lie there, together with many others that do not seem to disturb our authorities in the slightest. We expect more serious incidents to occur, but we believe that not even then will this problem be taken seriously.

“This whole series of incidents reflects the State’s double standards. The institutions who claim to protect the order and public customs are in charge of doing the dirty work. They repress and, if possible, eliminate everything that challenges the fundamentalist beliefs of those in power. Those who never see their rights questioned refuse to accept that sexual diversity, in all its expressions-- lesbians, gays, transvestites, transgenders, transsexuals, the intersexed, bisexuals-- exists. It is these sexual minorities who are foolishly depraved of their fundamental human rights.

--Belissa Andía, Coordinator – Claveles Rojos”.

INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC LAW

The 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 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.

The right to be free from discrimination and to equality before the law: UDHR (Articles 2 and 7), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – ICESCR- (Article 2), ICCPR (Articles 2 and 26) and IAHRC (Articles 1 and 24).

The right to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention is protected by the ICCPR (Article 9.1) and by the IACHR (Article 7.3)

The right to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is protected by the UDHR (Article 5), and by the ICCPR (Article 7) and by the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (Article 5.2).

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

In 2002, Peru 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, the signatories commit themselves to combat all forms of discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or choice, paying special attention to preventing and punishing violence and discrimination against those whose sexual orientation or choice differs from that of the majority. The signatories also commit to provide legal resources for effective remedy in cases of damage caused by such offenses.

Law 28.237 passed by the Peruvian Parliament, instituted a new Constitutional Procedures Code for the 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 ICCPR 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 Peru.