Washington, D.C. December 20th 2014- Yesterday, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a verdict declaring Peru responsible for committing multiple human rights violations—which have remained unpunished for over 20 years—against Gladys Carol Espinoza Gonzáles.
The verdict will also play a key role for establishing investigation rules and protocols based on international standards for all victims of sexual violence in Peru.
In its ruling, the court declared that Peru is responsible for committing acts of torture and sexual violence against Gladys Carol, and establishes that the State must “…develop investigation protocols so that cases of torture, rape, and other forms of sexual violence, are duly investigated and judged based on standards established in the ruling; ... incorporate standards outlined in the ruling in programs and education and training courses aimed at those who are responsible for investigating and prosecuting gender-based crimes; …implement a mechanism whereby all female victims of widespread practices of rape and other forms of sexual violence during Peru’s armed conflict have free access to specialized medical rehabilitation—including psychological and/or psychiatric—aimed at repairing such violations."
In April 1993, Gladys Carol was illegally detained under anti-terrorism laws and subjected to brutal acts of torture and sexual violence by members of Peruvian law enforcement. Although multiple complaints were filed since 1993 and sufficient medical reports confirmed the victim’s health, no investigation took place until 2012. Based on these facts, the ruling issued by the IACHR establishes responsibility by the Peruvian State for the violation of Gladys Carol’s guarantee to judicial guarantees and protections.
Additionally, the IACHR found that the lack of investigation behind the denunciations of torture and sexual violence was part of a widespread pattern of gender discrimination found within the judicial system that manifested itself in the form of gender stereotypes used to discredit Gladys Carols and other’s accusations. According to the court “…guaranteeing access to justice for female victims of sexual violence must be ensured through the provision rules that assess the evidence avoiding assertions, insinuations and stereotypical references.”
Finally, the Court ordered the State to diligently ensure the investigation and punishment of human rights violations committed against Gladys Carol.
Sexual Violence: A systematic practice conducted by counterrevolutionary operatives.
Through its judgment, the IACHR found that sexual violence and torture against women were systematic and generalized practices used by Peruvian state agents in their fight against revolutionary forces.
“This case is representative of an existing practice in Peru that took place during the armed conflict that—up to this date—has remained unpunished: the use of torture, violence, and rape by state agents,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). “This ruling is an opportunity for Peru to take critical steps to overcome one of the most painful chapters of its recent history where thousands of women were disproportionately affected and their cases remain open.”
According to Gloria Cano, Executive Director of APRODEH “This case underscores the need for justice operators to receive human rights and gender sensitivity training. As we can see, the use of gender stereotypes was widespread throughout this case and prevented the victim from receiving justice, even though she filed complaints since 1993.”
Through this ruling, the Court also highlighted the cruel, degrading and inhuman conditions of Ms. Espinoza’s detention conditions at the Yanamayo Maximum Security Facility, where she was held from 1996 to 2001 without any medical attention despite showing signs of progressive medical deterioration. The IACHR declared that the use of force against Gladys Carol during a prison riot in 1999 constituted torture, providing an opportunity for the review of prison authorities in their treatment of inmates.
APRODEH and CEJIL reaffirm their commitment to continue supporting the victim and her family members by ensuring the effective and expedient compliance with the sentence issued by the IACHR.