Update: Call on Peruvian Authorities for Justice in Murder of HIV/AIDS and Gay Activist

December 2010: The National Police of Peru have undertaken a comprehensive investigation and have arrested and charged someone with the murder of activist Juan Osario. This would probably not have been possible without the hundreds of responses to this Action Alert, the amazing effort of members of the Association VIHDARTE, the Peruvian Ombudsman and the friends and family of Juan Osario.

As a result of the October 2010 Action Alert issued by IGLHRC with Boletín Diversidad and VIHDARTE, a representative of the office of the Peruvian “Defensor del Pueblo,” (Public Ombudsman), met with members of VIHDARTE to discuss the response of authorities to the murder of activist Alberto Osorio. At the meeting on November 3 the activists presented the more than 500 letters received through the Action Alert. The Ombudsman’s office expressed their commitment to following up the case – which is currently being investigated – and to support VIHDARTE, including through legal advice, during the process.

The government oversight body also noted their presentation before Peru’s Congress in support of a Hate Crimes Bill – a legal initiative currently being debated and seen as important by activists – that would result in heightened condemnation of crimes based on gender, religious, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity prejudice.

The Ombudsman’s office also committed to holding trainings for police and media officers in order to avoid prejudicial investigations and communications. They also showed interest in getting involved, where resources and capacity allow, in other similar cases needing support.

Please continue to send letters –debate continues in Peru on the Hate Crimes Bill and these letters will encourage the support of the Justice Minister and the Public Ombudsman – key allies for the bill’s approval.

The Issue

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins Boletín Diversidad and VIHDARTE in an urgent call to Peruvian authorities to demand a condemnation of homophobic hate crimes, a full and fair investigation into the murder of journalist and human rights activist, Alberto Osorio, and for all perpetrators to be brought to justice. At least 16 other gay or transgender people have been murdered under similar circumstances in Peru since 2009, and we call upon Peruvian authorities to act decisively to prevent such crimes and to protect the Peruvian LGBT community.

Background

On the morning of 20 September 2010, the body of Alberto Osorio, 44, journalist and activist for the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, was found by his mother, Esther Castillo. Mrs. Castillo found her son’s body in his apartment in the district of San Martin de Porres in northern Lima. He had been tied to his bed with a cable and bruises on his body indicated that he was beaten before being strangled.

In addition to Alberto Osorio, at least eight other gay or transgender people were murdered in 2010 in similar circumstances, according to Boletín Diversidad, a Peruvian organization that monitors homophobic violence. According to their human rights report, at least another seven gay or trans people were murdered in 2009. These crimes repeat the pattern used in the murder of Alberto Osorio: the perpetrator seduces the victim, enters their home and then beats, kills and robs them.

There is more to these crimes than the sensationalist reports of some in the Peruvian media that, in their accounts of murders of gay and transgender people, portray LGBT victims as immoral instead of focusing on the arbitrary and violent nature of these hate crimes. In the case of Alberto Osorio’s death, their speculation included that the murder was revenge for intentional transmission of HIV or was the consequence of sadomasochistic practices gone too far. Rather what is needed is a focus on bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

Very few of the cases of gay men and transgender people who have been murdered over the past year have resulted in criminal prosecution. According to some LGBT activists in Peru, the failure to solve and prosecute these crimes is a result of homophobic bias. In those cases that did result in prosecutions, LGBT organizations maintain that the failure to bring specific charges relating to anti-gay hate crimes has led to weak convictions for the perpetrators. They argue that investigations and criminal charges must take into account the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of the victim as a potential motivation for the crime. Failing to do so allows for the impunity of perpetrators, underscores discrimination in the justice system itself, and leads to further hate crimes against LGBT people.

Alberto Osorio was a journalist and the president of VIHDARTE Centro de Desarollo Participativo Para Los Derechos y La Salud (Center for Participative Development for Health and Rights), a civil society organization he founded in 2001 to defend and promote the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. Alberto Osorio frequently denounced the Peruvian government’s neglect and indifference to drug and treatment shortages for people living with HIV/AIDS. As a representative of this community he was appointed member of the national commission on AIDS, Comité Nacional Multisectorial de Lucha contra el SIDA (CONAMUSA).

The Action


** THIS CALL TO ACTION HAS ENDED **

Advocate for international LGBT human rights here »

National and International 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 American Convention on Human Rights (AHRC) in its Articles 4 and 7.

The right to equality before the law and the right to non-discrimination are protected by the Declaration in Articles 2 and 7, the Covenant in Articles 2 and 26, and the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, in Articles 1 and 24.

Peru ratified IICCPR on April 18, 1978 and ACHR on July 28, 1978

The UDHR is considered part of customary international law, and binding on all member States of the United Nations, including Perú, The Interamerican Human Rights Convention binds all OAS members

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. The UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights has made a similar observation in its General Comment 14 on the right to health. Numerous other United Nations human rights mechanisms have condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Organization of American States (OAS) in its resolution AG / RES. 2600 (XL-Ou/10) "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity", which text confirms the progress of previous years with resolutions AG/RÊS.2435 (XXXVIII-Ou / 08) and AG / RES 2504 ( -0/09 XXXIX) entitled "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity." This new resolution submitted by Brazil and co-sponsored by Bolivia, stands out not only to condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity and express their concern about the violence faced by human rights defenders working on issues related to such violations, but also urges Member States to take all necessary measures to combat violations of human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity, ensuring full access to justice for their victims.

In 2002, Peru ratified the Andean Charter to Promote and Protect Human Rights (Carta Andina de Promoción y Protección de los Derechos Humanos). Article 10 of this Charter 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 communities on account of race, color, sex, age, language, religion, political beliefs, nationality, sexual orientation, immigration status or any other condition; it also reaffirms their commitment to promote national legislation to criminalize racial discrimination. Section F of the Charter 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 preference, are entitled to the same human rights. In Article 53, signatory states commit themselves to combating all forms of discrimination against individuals on account of their sexual orientation or preference, in accordance with national legislation. Hence they commit themselves to paying special attention to the prevention and punishment of violence and discrimination against those whose sexual orientation or preference differs from that of the majority, as well as to providing legal resources for effective remedy in instances of damage caused by such offenses.

Law 28.237 passed by the Peruvian Parliament, instituted a new constitutional protection for the LGBT population. It prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, recognizes sexual minorities as a protected group, and allows individuals to submit appeals and complaints in cases of discrimination. Law 28.237 has been in force since December 1, 2004.