Furthermore, he added that the country also failed to investigate and prosecute those responsible.
“Any use of force must comply with the fundamental principles of legality, necessity and proportionalitysaid Carlos Gómez Martínez, member of the Committee.
The Committee issued its findings after examining a petition filed by relatives of Emiliano García Mendoza and Rubén Pariona Camposano who, together with approximately 700 other people, took part in an agrarian demonstration in the Ayacucho region, in the center -southern Peru.
When protesters marched into a street manned by 12 law enforcement officers, the police officer in charge threw a tear gas canister into the crowd.
As the protesters dispersed, two shots were heard before both men fell to the ground, bleeding profusely from head wounds. They died instantly.
“During peaceful protests, life-threatening force by law enforcement should be an extreme measure that may only be used when strictly necessary to protect life or prevent serious injury from an imminent threat,” recalled Mr. Gomez Martinez.
Curb police brutality
The provincial prosecutor filed a complaint against a policeman, who admitted to having used his weapon, for aggravated homicide, demanding a 30-year prison sentence.
The Committee’s decision also underscored that it is the responsibility of States to take all necessary measures to prevent arbitrary deprivation of life by their law enforcement officials.
“Firearms should never be used for the sole purpose of dispersing a gathering,” he added.
According to the Committee, the judicial investigations into the two killings were not conducted properly.
In the most significant incident, the accused police officer turned in his weapon to the armory rather than the forensic department – and subsequent testing of the weapon indicated that it bore no signs of a shot.
As a result, the High Court acquitted the accused in 2013 and the Supreme Court of Justice upheld the acquittal in 2016.
The families of the victims then submitted their petition to the UN Committee in 2017.
Arbitrary deprivation of life by the authorities is a matter of the utmost gravity – Member of the HR committee
‘No legitimate reason’
The Committee concluded that Peru had violated the rights of the two deceased to life and the right to peaceful assembly, as well as the right of their relatives to an effective remedy.
“According to the conclusions of the forensic report of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, the shots were fired from a distance of approximately 25 meters when Mr. García Mendoza and Mr. Pariona Camposano had their backs turned, which means that the victims did not pose a danger to the police,” said Gómez Martínez. “There was therefore no legitimate reason to open fire on the two victims,” he added.
The Committee called on Peru to carry out a thorough and effective investigation into the events leading to these deaths, to impose criminal and administrative sanctions on all responsible officials and to provide adequate compensation for the damage suffered by the families.
“The arbitrary deprivation of life by the authorities is a matter of the utmost gravity. The obligation to protect the right to life also requires states parties to investigate and prosecute potential cases of unlawful deprivation of life.punish the perpetrators and provide full reparation,” he said.
Learn more about the committee
The Human Rights Committee monitors states parties’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which to date has been ratified by 173 states parties.
It is composed of 18 independent human rights experts who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.