Petitions for Abimael Guzman and Other Political Prisoners Filed at United Nations

Revolutionary Worker #977, October 11, 1998

The following is an excerpt from an article dated September 1, 1998, by the International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life of Dr. Abimael Guzmán (IEC):

A significant step has been taken in the legal case of Dr. Abimael Guzmán and other political prisoners in Peru. On January 10, 1998, two U.S. lawyers for Dr. Abimael Guzmán--Leonard I. Weinglass and Peter Erlinder--submitted two petitions to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

One petition is on behalf of Abimael Guzmán, documenting how his treatment at the hands of the Peruvian authorities is a clear-cut case of arbitrary detention as defined by the UN Working Group. The other petition is on behalf of all the prisoners convicted under the anti-terrorism laws and currently held in Peru's prisons. The latter petition documents how the very laws and procedures established under Peru's anti-terrorism laws serve to "legally" enforce the denial of due process and the practice of arbitrary detention against all those arrested under these laws. These petitions call on the UN Working Group to recommend to the Peruvian government that full rights be restored immediately to Dr. Guzmán and to all the prisoners who have been convicted of terrorism and treason.

The petitions were submitted to the UN Working Group in anticipation of its investigative trip to Peru which took place during late January and early February of this year. The mandate of this Working Group is to investigate the judicial and legal practices that result in the detention of prisoners. It does not investigate the prison conditions, but rather the procedures used by the authorities to imprison people, in order to determine whether the prisoners' rights to a fair trial and due process are being respected or whether they are instead being arbitrarily detained by the government authorities. While in Peru, the UN Working Group representatives visited a number of prisons throughout Peru and interviewed prisoners convicted under the anti-terrorism laws. However, they were not allowed by the government to see Dr. Abimael Guzmán. The Working Group is expected to issue a report on its visit to Peru. However, as of this writing, the results of the investigation have not yet been released.

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