Peru dispatch: Victor Polay Campos returns to terrorize Peruvians from prison Dispatches
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Peru dispatch: Victor Polay Campos returns to terrorize Peruvians from prison

Peruvian law students from the Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas, Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco are reporting for JURIST on law-related events in and affecting Perú. All of them are from CIED (Centro de Investigación de los Estudiantes de Derecho), a student research centre in UNSAAC’s faculty of law dedicated to spreading legal information and improving legal culture through study and research, promoting critical and reflective debate to contribute to the development of the country. Flor Maria Gutierrez is a law student from UNSAAC and a member of CIED. She files this dispatch from Cusco.

On August 30 of this year, it was announced by the Peruvian media that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) admitted a lawsuit filed by Victor Polay Campos for processing. Víctor Polay Campos, also called “Comrade Rolando”, is a Peruvian terrorist, the founder and leader of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement(TARM). From the time of the announcement to date, this man has been remembered in the national media and the consequences of his lawsuit mentioned below, are being discussed.

The TARM movement arose in the 1980s and according to estimates by the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is responsible for more than 1,200 human rights violations between the years 1980 and 2000. Polay Campos is also responsible for kidnappings, murders and attacks. For these crimes, in 1993, a faceless court sentenced him to life imprisonment for terrorism. But this sentence was annulled and in 2006 he was sentenced to 32 years in prison and the payment of fifty million Sols as civil compensation for terrorism, aggravated terrorism and document falsification. In 2008 his sentence was increased to 35 years, which he continues to serve at present.

Despite the fact that Polay Campos is serving a sentence, in 2007 his representative presented a petition claiming constant torture against him. This petition in 2022 was taken up by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has now ruled declaring it admissible, so the Polay Campos returns to the fore to generate commotion in Peruvian life and especially affect the victims and their families, who suffered immensely at the hands of Campos and his men.

One particular concern is that Campos has seemingly shown no remorse for the acts committed. In fact, quite the opposite appears true. He maintains that everything was done for the struggle on behalf of the poor. There is, however, no doubt that his acts, done for whatever reason, are inhumane in the worst ways imaginable. The lack of respect for the memories of the victims of his ‘terror time’ is unfortunate.

Further, it is necessary to specify what happens with the declaration of admissibility of his petition by the IACHR. Is Campos to be released? The answer may be no, since the IACHR doesn’t carry out any evaluation of evidence in order to determine the innocence or guilt of this man. The objective pursued by  OAS is to determine whether the Peruvian judicial authorities have complied with the obligations established in the American Convention on Human Rights.

It’s undeniable that this situation has generated notable indignation among Peruvian citizens because it is ironic that justice or the recognition of rights is demanded for those who, due to their radical ideologies, have seen fit to destroy thousands of lives and make their country suffer. In this regard, Peruvian authors such as José Luis Gil, former head of the Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior, considered the lawsuit filed in favour of Víctor Polay Campos to be part of a mechanism used by those convicted of terrorism to obtain undue benefits, specifically financial compensation.

Given all of the above, all that remains is to follow the course of the case before the future actions of the IACHR, the defence of Polay Campos and the Peruvian State. However, it is also necessary to emphasize that the admission of the petition does not imply a modification of the penalty that Campos may be hoping for, due to the reasons mentioned above.