Latin America cannot tolerate protection of fugitives from justice
Chile has at its fingertips an opportunity to extradite former President of Peru Alberto Fujimori and ensure he is tried in his country, where he faces charges of corruption and human rights violations. Fujimori was arrested in Chile after leaving Japan, where he had taken refuge since 2000, free from legal prosecution, availing himself of his claim of dual Peruvian-Japanese citizenship. The Peruvian Government has 60 days to request his extradition. Chilean courts have a legal and moral obligation to enforce the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC) and extradite the former head of state to ensure he faces justice. Vladimiro Montesinos, Fujimori’s principal advisor and former chief of secret service, is currently in custody in Peru facing corruption charges.
“Fujimori’s arrest in Chile creates an opportunity for him to be tried in the Peruvian court system on charges of grave acts of corruption and human rights violations,” stated Laura Puertas, Executive Director of Proética, Transparency International’s (TI) national chapter in Peru. “Fujimori must voluntarily return to Peru and face justice in his home country,” she added.
In addition to the extradition treaty signed by Peru and Chile in 1932, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (IACAC) establishes a system of mutual cooperation between member countries (including Peru and Chile) aimed at pursuing individuals who commit acts of corruption. Transparency International urges enforcement of the treaty if the crimes attributed to the individual charged constitute acts of corruption. The convention warrants a responsibility to cooperate and authorise the extradition of individuals who face criminal prosecution in the extradition-seeking country.
“Chile’s initiative in arresting Fujimori is encouraging; the country must now act swiftly to extradite him. Latin America must not become a safe haven for fugitives from justice accused of corruption crimes,” stated Silke Pfeiffer, director of TI’s Americas Department.
Fujimori fled to Japan in November 2000 following a litany of corruption scandals, and resigned as president of Peru by fax. Despite the mountain of evidence pointing his involvement in corruption and human rights violations during the 10 years he was in office, the Government of Japan has to this day refused to extradite the former president on the basis of his claim of Japanese nationality.
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Note to editors:
International courts have frozen approximately US$ 207 million taken from Peru and held in various countries, of which some US$ 150 million has been repatriated. Fujimori is charged in 21 pending court cases in connection with more than 15 crimes, including the murder of college students, a professor and a number of low-income residents of a downtown neighbourhood in the nation’s capital, Lima.
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