CERD Committee evaluates discrimination in Peru

Six states – Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Nepal, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden – had the current situation of human rights in their countries reviewed during the working session for the 95thCommittee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The Committee called its session into order this past April 23rd in Geneva, Switzerland, and discussed the human rights situation of Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Nepal, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden. The review of Peru took place on April 25th and 26th in a dialogue guided by Pastor Murillo Martinez, CERD Independent Expert and UN Rapporteur for Peru. After listening to opening remarks by the State, he shared general insight on the racial discrimination that currently affects the country.

In his speech, Mr. Murillo congratulated the State for its steady economic growth as well as its leadership during the VIII Summit of the Americas – one of the most important events in the region. Additionally, the expert mentioned some of the biggest challenges facing democracy and politics and acknowledged advancements made. Important advances include the self-identification of various Afro-descendant and indigenous communities in the country as a result of the findings of the latest national census done in 2017.

During the session, the independent expert of CERD, Mr. Murillo Martinez, noted and commended the State for “taking a step forward” in its stance against discrimination, referencing the public apology issued to the Afro-descendant population by the state for its long history of abuse. Despite this progress, Mr. Murillo Martinez stressed the challenges Afro-descendant and indigenous populations face in being recognized, respected, and free from discrimination in the broader Peruvian society. He asked what specific actions the State is taking to combat these issues and suggested including a formal recognition of the ethnic diversity of the country in the Constitution, including a recognition of Afro-descendant and indigenous populations. Additionally, Mr. Murillo Martinez discussed the possibility of adopting quotas in government representation or other affirmative action steps for minority groups as a way to combat and eradicate the structural racism that persists in the country.

Additionally, members of the Committee expressed their appreciation for a presentation by Azucena Algendones, an Afro-Peruvian woman who shared her personal experience with discrimination. Ms. Algendones was the victim in the first racial discrimination case to be legally adjudicated in Peruvian history. She highlighted the difficulties she faced throughout the process.

In responding to the questions and comments of the Committee, the State first expressed its desire to support the establishment of anti-discrimination policies as well as policies to promote recognition and respect for the Afro-Peruvian and indigenous communities within the State’s Constitution. The State referenced an existing legislative proposal that will be discussed in Congress soon and affirmed that there are severe penalties for anyone who discriminates on any basis.

The state also referenced to a National Development Plan (PLANDEPA) created with specific strategies, actions, and objectives aimed at promoting inclusion and combatting racial discrimination. After considerable effort, the State has come up with a comprehensive plan that incorporates the input from over 180 NGOs but has asked the Committee for guidance on its implementation and follow-up

The State also assured the Committee that it is doing everything it can to implement training programs on indigenous and gender issues in various state bodies, including judicial agencies.

Due to the large number of questions that came out of the session and because of time constraints, the State agreed with the Committee to respond at a later time to written questions. The Final Observations of the Committee on the six states that were reviewed will be publicized on May 11, 2018.

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