Prevalence and Prevention of Torture in Peru 1985-2014

In: R. Carver and L. Handley (eds), Does Torture Prevention Work? (Liverpool University Press, 2016)

52 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2016 Last revised: 22 Nov 2016

Date Written: January 16, 2016


This chapter describes how torture became a generalized practice in many areas of Peru in the period under review. Today it is the most serious widespread violation of human rights in the country. It is closely associated with the investigation of terrorist offences, an issue that emerged in 1980 but that has deep roots in Peruvian history. Several phases of Peru’s recent history are examined in this study. Between 1980 and 2000, the country experienced a brutal internal armed conflict, during which arbitrary detention and torture became routine. When democracy was restored in 2000, a transitional government took steps to re-establish the rule of law and domestic human rights protection. These reforms reduced serious human rights violations in Peru, including torture and arbitrary detention. But this study finds that abuses did not end; instead, methods of torture, the profile of victims, and the circumstances in which abuses occurred changed. Because torture and ill-treatment were deeply-rooted societal practices, embedded in the training of security officials, abuse was largely self-perpetuating. If police abuse lies at the heart of Peru’s failure to prevent torture and protect rights, the country’s deeply dysfunctional judicial, prosecutorial and penal system has played an important supporting role. Its structural shortcomings remain apparent.

Keywords: Peru, torture, human rights, comparative politics, Latin America

Suggested Citation

Herrera, Nataly and Pegram, Tom, Prevalence and Prevention of Torture in Peru 1985-2014 (January 16, 2016). In: R. Carver and L. Handley (eds), Does Torture Prevention Work? (Liverpool University Press, 2016). Available at SSRN:

Nataly Herrera


66119, Alt Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken, Saarland 66119

Tom Pegram (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

29/30 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom
442031089291 (Phone)


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