Country report and updates: Peru

Peru

26/05/1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

The 1979 Political Constitution, amended in 1993, states in art. 270 that "National defence is permanent and integral. Every natural or legal person is obliged to participate in it, in accordance with the law." Military service is prescribed by the 8 November 1983 Law on Compulsory Military Service (D.L. 264) and the 16 November 1984 Regulation on Military Service (Supreme Decree 072-84-PCM). [4] [1]

The 12 November 1991 Law on National Mobilisation (D.L. 733) is thought still to apply. Although the conflict between government forces and the armed insurgent groups of Shining Path and Tupac Amaru has declined since 1992, there are some rural areas where political violence still sporadically appears. [4]

military service

All men aged 18 to 50 and women aged 18 to 45 are liable for military service. [4] [1]

Military service lasts for 2 years. [2] [8]

In 1991 it was announced that all men and women aged 15 to 60 had to join "self-defence committees". In areas where a state of emergency had been declared these committees tended to consist of former Peasant Patrols which had been transformed into armed civilian groups supervised by the army. They comprised men and women aged 18 to 60, but in many cases they included children as young as 9. [4]

It is not known whether these self-defence committees are still armed and active.

postponement and exemption

No information is available on any regulations on postponement of and exemption from service, but clearly medically unfit conscripts get exempted.

Upper and middle class conscripts use money or influence to get themselves declared 'unfit' or simply 'not selected' in the recruit selection procedure. [4]

recruitment

All 17-year-olds, male and female, must register in order to obtain a military service card (libreta de servicio militar). [5]

After registration conscripts undergo a thorough medical examination. Then a lottery is held to decide which conscripts have and have not been 'selected'. [1]

Those who end up serving in the armed forces are mainly peasants and poor men from rural areas and big cities' shantytowns. This has been the situation ever since the 1968 to 1980 military dictatorships. [7]

With parental consent, young men may join the armed forces when they are 16. [4]

forced recruitment

Recruitment is often achieved by press-ganging youths into the armed forces. Art. 283 of the 1979 constitution clearly stated that recruitment "not authorised by the military laws and regulations is a crime", but it is no longer part of the current 1993 constitution. [4]

There are numerous cases of illegal recruitment by the armed forces, even of children as young as 11. During the 1995 border conflict with Ecuador a 14-year-old killed in battle was proclaimed a national hero. The armed forces maintained he had enlisted voluntarily, but human rights groups pointed out that his recruitment, given he was a minor, had anyway been illegal. [4]

2 Conscientious objection

The right to conscientious objection is not legally recognised and there is no provision for substitute service. [2]

3 Draft evasion and desertion

penalties

Draft evasion and desertion is punishable under the 24 July 1980 Code of Military Justice (Decree Law 23214). [4]

Failing to perform military service is defined as simple desertion (art. 224 and 225). [4]

Desertion is punishable with from 6 months' to 2 years' imprisonment. In wartime, the punishment may even be execution. [6]

On 15 July 1995 President Fujimori introduced a general amnesty law.

practice

No information available.

4 Forced recruitment by Shining Path and MRTA

There is considerable evidence that the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru (MRTA) recruit their troops by force. [4]

Shining Path's political and military strategy seems to have been designed especially to recruit children by force. They have recruited boys and girls over the age of 9, from poor peasant backgrounds belonging to large families. They have been indoctrinated, have received military training and have often been compelled to perpetrate atrocities. [4]

Likewise the MRTA has been recruiting children and adolescents by brute force. [4]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces consist of 125,000 troops, of whom 74,500 are conscripts. The armed forces form 0.51 percent of the population. There is a 188,000 strong reserve force. [8]

Every year about 250,000 men reach conscription age. [8]

Sources

[1] UN Commission on Human Rights 1994. Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1993/84 (and Addendum). United Nations, Geneva. [2] UN Commission on Human Rights 1997. The question of conscientious objection to military service, report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83. United Nations, Geneva. [3] Woods, D.E. 1993. Child Soldiers, the recruitment of children into the armed forces and their participation in hostilities. Quaker Peace and Service, London, UK. [4] Rädda Barnen 1996. Recruiting methods, and treatment of children and adolescents in Peru's internal armed conflict, preliminary investigation. Rädda Barnen, Stockholm, Sweden. [5] Embassy of Peru in Canada 1993 Telephone interview from DIRB with consular officer, 3 December 1993. [6] Embassy of Peru in USA 1994. Telephone interview from DIRB with representant, 11 July 1994. [7] DIRB 1995 Telephone interview with two professors of political science specialising in Peru. DIRB, 18 May 1995. [8] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK.