Peru: Supreme Court prohibits the right to protest

From Lima

One more step in the authoritarian offensive. This time the anti rights attack that shoots against democracy has come from the Supreme Court. In a ruling by judges at the service of a dictatorship, the five magistrates of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court have prohibited the right to protest. Even peaceful protest is classified as a crime.

This court decision criminalizes a fundamental right in democracy occurs in the context of a serious political and social crisis, with more than 60 deaths -49 of them by shots from the security forces- in protests demanding the resignation of the president Dyne boluarte and the advance of the general elections. The government that has brutally repressed social protests now finds a way to hide behind a legal coverage to justify and continue that repression.

Exercising power by coercion

With this decision, the Supreme Court openly joins the ruling right-wing authoritarian coalition, which includes the Executive, the majority of Congress, the National Prosecutor’s Office and the hegemonic media. A coalition that it maintains itself in power through repression.

The Supreme Court has ruled that mobilizing against the government, a private company, or in defense of some right, represents an “anti-value” and constitutes a crime. and yesIt points out that if a protest, even a peaceful one, affects the economic system, it becomes “an aggravated felony.” Judicial authoritarianism to shield the neoliberal economic model. Interrupting the circulation of transport for a peaceful mobilization is another aggravating factor in the new crime of protest. With this new legislation, those who participate in any peaceful protest are threatened with a jail sentence.

The argument -or excuse- of the Supreme Court to criminalize the fundamental right to protest is that a social mobilization, even if it is peaceful, “affects the rights of others”, among them, indicates the court ruling, that of being able to move through the streets which are the scene of some mobilization. The supreme judges go so far as to establish that an effective affectation of any rights of others is not required, but that “the threat” of eventually being able to “affect other rights” is enough for a crime to be established. For the magistrates, the only option that citizens have to protest, or express themselves in defense of some right, is go on hunger strikeof which it is said “it does not affect others”, or a labor strike but that does not include a mobilization to express the demands demanded.

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The elimination of the right to protest has been given in the judgment on an appeal filed by four peasant leaders against a conviction against them for protest against a mining company. The four peasants were arrested in May 2016 during protests against the Las Bambas copper mine, operated by a Chinese company in the Andean region of Apurímac. The peasants expressed their rejection of the effects produced by the mining activity on the peasant communities and the environment. The Las Bambas mine has been the subject of various protests in recent years. The peasant leaders were sentenced to two years in suspended prison and to pay a fine for participating in a demonstration that blocked a road and distributing flyers against the mining company. A sentence framed in the repressive policy against peasant protests against extractive projects that affect their lands.

These conflicts are the source of major protests in various regions of the country. The decision of the Supreme Court, motivated in a case that seeks to silence peasant protests against mining companies and other extractive projects in their territories, extends to all kinds of protests, which have become a crime.

In the current crisis and in the midst of the announcement by social organizations to resume the protests against the Boluarte government, this judicial decision opens the doors to an alleged legalization of the criminalization of anti-government protesters. The government repression, which has left 49 people dead, most of them Andean residents, from shots from war rifles in most cases and in others from shots from metal pellet shotguns, has been condemned by national and international rights organizations. rights, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations. This repression continues in impunity. The government has criminalized the protests and backed the security forces accused of firing on the population. Now it has the ruling of the Supreme Court to strengthen its repressive policy.

This judicial decision that prohibits protesting goes against international norms in democracy, which recognize and protect the right to protest, and also against previous decisions of the Supreme Court itself and the Constitutional Court that had recognized the right to peaceful protest, now eliminated. The highest court has established a new repressive legislation in the authoritarian times that the country lives.

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