Finally: Searching for the Missing People
After sixteen years since the military conflict ended, on May 26, 2016, the Peruvian Congress approved Law No. 30470 that stipulated to search for the missing people who disappeared during the violence period 1980-2000. During the conflict, 69,280 have been killed, from which nearly 16,000 are still missing. Mr. Eduardo Vega, an ombudsman manager, said that this is a very important day for the Peruvian democracy because families of the victims waited for more than three decades for this law.
According to the law, a missing person is any whose location is unknown to their relatives, or which do not have legal certainty of its location. The search includes actions by competent authorities relating to the collection, verification, and processing the information leading to the discovery of missing people, and identifying the bodies or human remains found in exhumations. There are still nearly 16,000 people who are missing. The forensic team and specialized prosecutors added 3,202 bodies recovered between 2002 and 2015. Of these, 1,833 had been identified, and 1,644 people were handed to their families. If the process continues at this pace, it is estimated to take seventy years to search for all missing people.
The process needs to be accelerated, argued Mr. Eduardo. The law lies precisely in speeding up the process of search, retrieval, and delivery of the remains of a missing person to their families without having to initiate criminal proceedings. Before the law was approved, the only way to start the search, identification, and exhumation was based on open criminal proceedings. With this law, it is not necessary to have an open investigation. The law also emphasizes that the state should guarantee effectiveness, and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the disappearance. However, there is the necessity to make a search plan that tries to cover the span of a missing person.
Equally important, the law proposes the creation of the National Registry of Disappeared People and Burial Sites. It is an autonomous basis of information that centralizes, systematizes, and debugs information provided by entities related to the process of tracing missing people. The record will be centralized, updated and administered by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. This is also part of the National Plan for the Search for Disappeared People, which will be approved within a maximum of 90 working days from the day the law was promulgated, and implemented by the aforementioned sector.
According to the Commission of Human Rights, 70% of burial sites of victims of terrorism are located in the Ayacucho region. The law promotes precisely protective measures to ensure that these places are not subject to any alteration or destruction. When a family member dies, one can bury him or her, make the corresponding mourning, have a period of sadness, and then overcome the situation. When people have a family member missed, they cannot burry him or her, and the grief never ends. After more than thirty years, people are still waiting for the remains of their beloved. This is a tragedy that we live in the country said Mr. Eduardo.
Although the Congress approved the law, the implementation of it can take long time. First, the Minister of Justice needs a plan that would highlight how the investigation would be carried out. Second, there are nine regions that have to be investigated, which require a forensic team per region. This would require approximately 90 forensic specialists to conduct this investigation. The Minister of Justice, however, has thirty forensic specialists. Third, some areas where people have been possibly buried have been altered: construction and highways have been built on their “graves.” This implies that some people will never be found. And lastly, funds need to be raised for this investigation. Having a plan that incorporates all these elements might take long time.
Posted By Daniel Prelipcian (Peru)
Posted Jul 22nd, 2016