President of Peruvian Truth Commission reports death threats, anti-semitic hatemail

Friday, October 7, 2005

Salomón Lerner, President of Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has investigated human rights abuses in the country, has received death threats and anti-Semitic emails, according to Human Rights Watch.

The 12-member commission published its major report [1], covering abuses committed over the last two decades, on 28 August 2003. Since then the commission has come under fierce attack from retired military personnel and politicians.

Largely as a result of the commission's findings, 378 Peruvians are currently facing criminal charges, including 273 former army officers.

Lerner is said to have told the Peru21 newspaper that an anonymous caller to his office in Lima recently left a message telling him to "consider himself dead". Lerner, whose father was Jewish, says that he has also received insulting and anti-Semitic emails. Other members of the commission are also believed to have been sent insulting messages.

Human Rights Watch has urged the Peruvian government to ensure that Lerner is protected, and "renew its pledge to carry out the commission's recommendations in full". Human Rights Watch recently complained of the government's failure to protect a key witness due to testify against a retired general accused of torture and kidnapping [2].

Perhaps coincidentally, fugitive ex-president Alberto Fujimori has announced in Tokyo his intention to run for the presidency again despite the government's statement that it will arrest him to face charges of murder, corruption and human rights abuses during the 1980s and 1990s.