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Peru Programs

Increasing support for the accusatorial system

Peru’s criminal justice system is transitioning from an inquisitorial system to an adversarial accusatory system. In response to the Peruvian government’s request to support this transition, ABA ROLI is implementing the Justice Sector Support Program (JSSP-2). High-profile corruption scandals have resulted in the disruption of governance and anticorruption efforts in Peru. Exacerbating its political and institutional crises, Peru has yet to implement its new Criminal Procedure Code wholly and consistently, while transnational criminal organizations that operate in Peru continue to evolve and adapt. Funded by the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), JSSP-2 aims to build on the success of its five-year INL-funded Justice Sector Support Project, which was implemented from 2016 to 2021. This new one-year project began in February 2022. It targets several regions and all 34 judicial districts of Peru. The program’s objectives are to support Peruvian authorities’ efforts to consolidate and build on judicial reforms; improve Peru’s capacity to combat complex crimes; prevent and detect corruption in justice sector institutions; and support the strengthening of equitable and fair access to justice, especially for vulnerable populations and indigenous communities.

In support of one of the program’s objectives—consolidating and building on Peru’s judicial reforms—the JSSP-2 program hosted a in October 2022 with public and private law schools from across Peru, with a focus on oral litigation skills. This is the first time the local and international competitions have been combined. The full competition ran from June 2022 to October 2022 with 199 teams from all over Peru participating. More than 600 participants from all over the country took part in the course. The program conducted two, two-day workshops on oral litigation techniques in each of Peru’s macro-regions to prepare the student competitors. The following video (in Spanish) shares the experience of the students who participated in oral litigation competition in 2022.

In addition, JSSP-2 program staff coordinated with Peru’s judicial branch to implement a two-day international conference in Lima to address current debates on the elimination of violence against women. Experts from across Latin America and the U.S. participated and presented at the conference, which included topics such as experiences in Central America, jurisprudence on the right to live freely from violence, judicial independence, gender-based violence, violence in social media, violence inflicted in the OBGYN setting, and violence inflicted upon the trans community. The conference was a huge success, with the President of the Judiciary (Dr. Elvia Barrios Alvarado) and its leadership in attendance. The program supplemented the conference with materials they produced to help people identify different kinds of violence against women, what resources are available, and how to report and present a case a violence. Importantly, these materials have been translated into Spanish and native languages to reach all vulnerable communities, and included women from indigenous communities, activists, LGBTQIA+, and local judicial operators.

The JSSP-2 program launched workshops on environmental law and crimes for prosecutors and police in Piura and Arequipa, Peru. The efforts supplemented an already-provided virtual course on environmental law for non-specialized units of the justice sector. The in-person workshops addressed the need to strengthen regulatory, institutional, and law enforcement capacity, as well as improve forest governance. To provide participants with hands-on experience, workshops included simulated environmental crimes scenes that allowed attendees to learn how to investigate and collect evidence of crimes against the environment. The JSSP-2 program also conducted two study tours to the U.S. in 2022. The first invited the Supreme Court of Peru to visit D.C., and the second was the National Board of Justice. The Justices from Peru met with Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court while visiting. They also met with USAID, INL, and local judges. Though JSSP-2 is only a one-year project that will conclude in 2023, it has undoubtedly built on the success of ABA ROLI’s past work in the country.

Improving the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of human trafficking cases

Peru is a central link to organized criminal organizations in the region, and related criminal activities, including human trafficking. Illicit gold mining is an increasingly prevalent crime in the country. It not only destroys and devastates Amazonian communities and their ecosystems but fosters human trafficking though forced labor and sexual exploitation in mining camps, especially in the Peruvian regions of Madre de Dios and Puno. Victims including men, women, children, and adolescents, are trapped by the remoteness of the locations and have limited-to-no access to justice, including protection from and the prosecution of those individuals engaged in human trafficking.

Funded by the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the four-year Combatting Human Trafficking in Peru program seeks to combat human trafficking in Peru through sustainable initiatives to mobilize action, with the goal of strengthening regional capacity for justice sector officials to effectively investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate human trafficking cases through a victim-centered and trauma-informed approach in Madre de Dios and Puno. 

ABA ROLI conducts assessments, working-group meetings, and capacity building activities to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of TIP cases using victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches. In the past, police and prosecutors often did not work together, leading to difficulties throughout the investigation and prosecution process of cases. The program supports an existing subregional Human Trafficking Task Force to promote cooperation between law enforcement and prosecutors. Both parties have enhanced their capacities through coordination and application of techniques learned through the program’s activities. 

In 2022, the program held a workshop in Lima to address the criminal investigation of cases of trafficking of children and adolescents. Directed at police and prosecutors, highlighting the use of technology and social media in cases of TIP. Later in the year, the program conducted a case review session and discussion of complex cases involving human trafficking with police and prosecutors in Puno. Participants addressed the investigation of TIP crimes and its relation to illegal smuggling. The TIP team then designed and organized training sessions that support victims of human trafficking in cooperation with the Public Ministry unit that provides aid and protection to TIP victims and witnesses.

Following this, program staff conducted a workshop in Madre de Dios on criminal investigations involving TIP with a focus on the victim/survivor. The workshop’s methodology incorporated practical exercises, including a crime scene simulation where participants developed their skills and investigation techniques necessary for the collection of physical and digital evidence, interviewing victims, and capturing alleged traffickers in the act of human trafficking. The goal of these practical exercises is to develop and enhance the authorities’ skills to handle real-life cases of TIP.

Despite the president’s attempted auto-coup, ABA ROLI’s TIP staff in Peru began implementing its inductive courts for new prosecutors specializing in human trafficking cases in December 2022. The virtual course will include recommendations from experienced TIP prosecutors, as well as reinforce conceptual criminal aspects and processes presented by other expert instructors. Staff have designed the sessions for the review of complex cases involving human trafficking to be conducted in person in Madre de Dios and virtually in 2023. The case review sessions will address the identification of human trafficking, forced labor and labor exploitation cases during the investigative stage and will be directed at police, prosecutors, and public defenders.

Supporting Environmental Defenders in Latin America

As part of its regional program, ABA ROLI works to strengthen regional capacities for coordinated interventions to respond, protect, and prevent human rights violations of Environmental Defenders in the Amazon region, including Peru. Through the Supporting Environmental Defenders in Latin America program, ABA ROLI is developing activities to strengthen their capacities to hold the private sector and governments accountable in the enforcement of environmental laws and the implementation of existing commitments in regional and international agreements. This is a two-year program from 2022-2024.

Read more about the program here.

Past Programs

Combatting wildlife trafficking

One of the most common birds trafficked in South America is the parrot.

One of the most common birds trafficked in South America is the parrot.

Peru is a central link in the regional illegal wildlife supply chain. Organized criminal groups already engaging in drug trafficking or other organized criminal activity harness the power of their existing networks to diversify revenue and launder money through wildlife trafficking (WT). These criminal industries thrive in Peru, a primary producer of the world’s cocaine supply, and operate near rare and exotic species that are sold in wealthy markets overseas. Not only does WT have a detrimental effect on the natural environments where trafficking syndicates operate, it also impacts the government institutions responsible for environmental law enforcement. It follows closely behind trafficking in drugs, guns, and people as one of the most lucrative forms of income for organized criminal groups.

From 2020 to 2023, ABA ROLI partnered with the government of Peru in its effort to combat wildlife trafficking. ABA ROLI supported the enforcement, investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of wildlife crimes in Peru. Together, ABA ROLI and these entities enhanced the capacity of justice sector institutions and promote cross-border and regional law enforcement coordination. The Combating Wildlife Trafficking in Peru program was funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Through this program, ABA ROLI developed and implemented training courses to strengthen the capacity of specialized units of the police, prosecution, and executive branch agencies specifically tasked with environmental law enforcement. ABA ROLI also led participants through a series of theoretical and practical exercises designed to strengthen their capacity to prohibit wildlife trafficking activity, before illegal goods can enter the stream of commerce. Peruvian police specializing in WT received instruction on advanced investigation techniques from their U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counterparts. Prosecutors were trained in litigation techniques and strategies, and judges learned the ins and outs of the highly scientific and nuanced issues surrounding wildlife trafficking in order to apply the law as justice demands. ABA ROLI’s local partners participated in capacity building activities to understand and enhance inter-institutional coordination against this complex type of criminal activity.

In 2022, the Program conducted a study trip to Oregon (OR), U.S. during which seven Peruvian officials learned first-hand about the techniques and best practices at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Forensics Laboratory (USFWS) in Ashland, OR. 

In 2022, ABA ROLI Peru held 30 training workshops for those tasked with combating WT. The workshops included two intensive courses and four fully asynchronous virtual courses, all focused on processing cases of wildlife trafficking in the accusatory system. More than 1,700 officials from various government agencies across Peru attended the workshops. 

To increase awareness, ABA ROLI facilitated know-your-rights workshops to educate participants on the potential legal ramifications of engaging in poaching or commerce of illegal wildlife goods. These educational opportunities aim to deter nefarious behavior and offer legal advice on legitimate forms of commercial activity. The program conducted an outreach campaign to raise awareness about the harmful effects wildlife trafficking has on citizens. It leveraged Peru’s three most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. The campaign reached approximately 240,000 citizens. However, the view count is expected to grow as the campaign’s materials continue circulating on these platforms. The campaign was accompanied by six conferences aimed at non-lawyer justices of the peace, “ronderos” (informal community watch organizations), judicial counselors, and other actors with positions of leadership in their communities. The conferences reached hundreds of people. Each participant received campaign merchandise to help spread the message.

Wildlife trafficking is oftentimes one source of revenue for transnational criminal organizations. ABA ROLI conducts on-the-ground studies to identify the associated crimes that enable organized criminal groups engaging in WT to profit. For example, ABA ROLI conducted a targeted de jure and de facto assessment of anti-corruption laws and policies to strengthen anticorruption efforts and improve justice sector officials’ capacity to disrupt wildlife trafficking activity. These efforts are complemented by anti-corruption training programs with WT-specific information for law enforcement.

Through 2022, ABA ROLI supported and evaluated CWT’s implementation with eight written publications. The program conducted three investigations and evaluations of ABA ROLI’s work in Peru. ABA ROLI also wrote and distributed five manuals for program participants. The manuals maintained a broad focus, addressing topics from precisely how criminals traffic wildlife, to how wildlife trafficking is linked with other crimes like corruption. 

To strengthen the capacity of officials from Peru and neighboring countries to combat WT at a regional level, ABA ROLI developed a guide to provide instruction for the use of mutual legal assistance instruments and informal cooperation during investigations and Prosecutions. Workshops provide technical instruction on the investigative, prosecutorial, and judicial skills needed to harness mutual legal assistance to disrupt wildlife trafficking activity at the international level. ABA ROLI also hosted a binational conference that brought together 18 officials from Peru and Ecuador. The goal of the conference was to discuss opportunities for international cooperation in the fight against wildlife trafficking. The meeting culminated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding that lays the foundations for bilateral cooperation along the Peru-Ecuador border. Although the program concluded in early 2023, efforts to combat WT will continue through regional efforts in the tri-border area.