|PR Political Rights||29 40|
|CL Civil Liberties||41 60|
Peru has established democratic political institutions and undergone multiple peaceful transfers of power. However, high-profile corruption scandals have eroded public trust in government, while bitter divides within a highly fragmented political class have repeatedly produced political turmoil. Indigenous groups suffer from discrimination and inadequate political representation.
- In December, then president Pedro Castillo was impeached and removed from office after he attempted to illegally dissolve Congress and rule by decree until new legislative elections could be held. Castillo was arrested later that day on charges of sedition and conspiracy; he remained in prison at year’s end.
- Within hours of Castillo’s removal, Congress appointed then vice president Dina Boluarte to the presidency. Boluarte was quickly inaugurated, becoming Peru’s first woman president.
- Large pro-Castillo protests erupted across Peru following the former president’s impeachment, many of which turned violent. The newly installed Boluarte government deployed the military and implemented a state of emergency in response to the protests, limiting assembly rights and granting “special powers” to security forces, who have been accused of using excessive force against protesters. The protests were ongoing at year’s end.
- By October, authorities had opened six corruption-related investigations into Castillo, who has been accused of influence peddling and collusion, among other things; investigations into Castillo remained ongoing at year’s end. Several of Castillo’s associates were also implicated in corruption scandals during the year, including his wife, Lilia Paredes, who is accused of participating in a high-level “corruption network.”
|Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections?||3.003 4.004|
The president is chief of state and head of government. Presidents are directly elected to a five-year term and may serve nonconsecutive terms. Prior to 2021, the last president to be seated through a national election was Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in 2016.
Kuczynski resigned in March 2018 as lawmakers prepared to hold an impeachment vote against him over corruption allegations. Vice President Martín Vizcarra was quickly sworn in to replace him, in accordance with legal procedures. Vizcarra repeatedly clashed with legislators, and used his authority to dissolve Congress in September 2019 following a vote of no confidence in his government. Vizcarra was ousted in November 2020 after congressional opponents invoked the constitution’s controversial “moral incapacity” clause; many outside observers characterized the removal as an abuse of a vague constitutional clause.
Vizcarra was replaced by Manuel Merino, from the center-right Acción Popular party, who selected a conservative cabinet and signaled an aggressive policy agenda. An initial wave of protests in Lima were met with violent police repression, which provoked even larger protests across the country. After less than a week and the resignation of several cabinet members, Merino was forced to resign.
After Merino’s resignation, Francisco Sagasti, who had been elected as president of Congress just days earlier, acceded to the presidency with a mandate of seeking unity and shepherding the country to general elections in April 2021.
Elections were held as planned in April 2021, followed by a second-round vote in June. The preliminary results of the runoff showed Pedro Castillo of the leftist Peru Libre party winning 50.13 percent of the vote, defeating Keiko Fujimori, who received 49.87 percent of the vote. The election, which saw a voter turnout of over 70 percent, was deemed free and fair by both local and international election monitors. However, Fujimori challenged the initial results, accusing Castillo of vote tampering, prompting electoral authorities to delay releasing the official results of the election. The National Board of Elections (JNE) ultimately dismissed Fujimori’s claims of electoral fraud, and officially declared Castillo’s victory in July.
In December 2022, hours before Congress planned to hold a vote on impeaching Castillo on charges of “moral incapacity,” Castillo attempted to illegally dissolve Congress and seize power in a so-called autogolpe (self-coup). Members of his government and the military immediately denounced Castillo’s actions, and he was removed from office that day after Congress voted to impeach him. Police arrested Castillo hours later on charges of sedition and conspiracy “for violating the constitutional order.” Castillo remained in prison at year’s end.
After Castillo was ousted, Congress appointed then vice president Dina Boluarte to the presidency according to legal guidelines. Boluarte took office within hours of Castillo’s removal, becoming both Peru’s first woman president and the country’s sixth president in less than five years.
|Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections?||4.004 4.004|
Members of the 130-member unicameral Congress are elected for five-year terms; reelection is not permitted. Congressional balloting employs an open-list, region-based system of proportional representation, with a 5 percent vote hurdle for a party to enter the legislature.
Ten parties entered Congress following the 2021 general elections, which were deemed competitive and peaceful by international observers. Castillo’s Peru Libre won 37 seats, becoming the largest party represented in Congress, followed by Keiko Fujimori’s previously dominant, right-wing FP party, which took 24. No party won a majority of seats.
In December 2022, then president Castillo illegally attempted to dissolve Congress, announcing that he would rule by decree until new legislative elections could be held. In response, members of Congress refused to leave congressional grounds and moved to impeach Castillo, voting “overwhelmingly” to remove the president. The legally elected legislature remained in office at year’s end.
|Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies?||3.003 4.004|
The JNE has taken steps to improve transparency surrounding the electoral process, but insufficiently regulated campaign financing remains a serious issue. International observers praised the conduct of the JNE and the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) during the 2021 elections, reporting that both bodies had operated efficiently and transparently.
|Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings?||4.004 4.004|
Peruvian parties, while competitive, are both highly fragmented and extremely personalized. Though there are limits on individual donations, there are no constraints on spending by political parties, offering an outsized advantage to parties able to secure abundant funds.
Since the party system collapsed during Alberto Fujimori’s authoritarian regime in the 1990s, the political system in Peru has been described by academic observers as a “democracy without parties.” Traditional political parties have been replaced by fragile and opportunistic political organizations that often have a very short life and little dedication to democratic practices.
|Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections?||4.004 4.004|
Opposition political parties have a realistic chance of winning power through elections, and the outcomes of elections at both the national and regional levels are subject to effective competition. Fragmentation, rather than lack of political opportunities, is the biggest obstacle faced by political actors attempting to gain and exercise power.
|Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means?||3.003 4.004|
While voters and candidates are generally able to exercise their political choices without undue influence, businesses regularly seek to bribe or otherwise influence political candidates’ positions.
|Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, racial, religious, gender, LGBT+, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities?||2.002 4.004|
The concerns of members of ethnic and cultural minority groups, especially in remote mountain and Amazonian areas, remain inadequately addressed in politics. The 2011 Law of Prior Consultation attempted to improve the participation of Indigenous groups by guaranteeing consultation before mining and other development projects are undertaken. However, Indigenous groups have criticized the law, as the process gives Indigenous representatives no veto power, and there are ambiguities as to what qualifies a community as Indigenous.
While the political participation of women has increased over recent years, women hold few leadership roles in local and regional governments. In June 2020, Congress passed a law requiring moves toward full gender parity on party lists. After the 2021 elections, women make up 40 percent of the legislature, with 52 women holding seats in Congress. Following her inauguration in December 2022, Dina Boluarte became Peru’s first woman president.
Peru’s first openly LGBT+ congressperson, Susel Paredes, was elected in 2021.
|Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?||2.002 4.004|
Elected leaders and representatives are the key agents in creating and implementing policy. However, businesses and special interest groups influence officials through bribes and other illicit payments. Several former presidents and longtime opposition leader Keiko Fujimori have all been accused of accepting illegal funds.
Clashes between the executive and legislative branches remain common. During Castillo’s approximately 17-month-long presidency, the executive struggled to function amid ongoing interbranch clashes that threatened to escalate to a constitutional crisis. Castillo was unable to effectively implement policies or maintain a stable government during his short tenure. Castillo also faced repeated impeachment attempts and confidence votes by the legislature. Though Congress voted against impeaching the president in December 2021 and March 2022, a vote to impeach and remove Castillo passed “overwhelmingly” in December 2022 following his attempt to unlawfully dissolve Congress and seize power. Though some observers noted that earlier impeachment attempts against Castillo had relied on dubious interpretations of the constitution, the proceedings that removed Castillo from office in December were generally deemed legitimate.
After removing Castillo, Congress appointed then vice president Dina Boluarte to the presidency in accordance with legal procedures.
Score Change: The score declined from 3 to 2 because Congress ousted President Castillo from office following his attempt to dissolve the legislature over its plans to impeach him—the fourth impeachment against a chief executive in five years.
|Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective?||2.002 4.004|
Government corruption remains a critical problem in Peru, though law enforcement authorities frequently investigate and prosecute corruption allegations. Recent years have seen scandals involving allegations of illicit deals between the Brazilian firm Odebrecht and a number of the country’s most senior political figures.
Since taking office in July 2021, Castillo has been the subject of several corruption allegations. Though he has repeatedly denied the accusations, authorities had opened six corruption-related investigations into Castillo as of October 2022, alleging that the then president had engaged in influence peddling and collusion, among other crimes; investigations into Castillo remained ongoing at year’s end.
Several of Castillo’s associates were also placed under investigation for corruption in 2021 and 2022, including former health minister Jorge Lopez for allegedly misappropriating public funds. Relatives of Castillo have also been implicated in corruption schemes, including his wife, Lilia Paredes, who is accused of participating in a high-level “corruption network” that fraudulently awarded public works contracts.
While president, Castillo sought to undermine safeguards against corruption, including through the arbitrary removal of Peru’s attorney general, Daniel Soria, in February 2022. Soria was reinstated as attorney general in October following a ruling by a Lima court.
|Does the government operate with openness and transparency?||2.002 4.004|
Some government agencies have made progress on transparency, but much information related to defense and security policies remains classified under a 2012 law. Observers noted an overall decline in transparency during the Castillo administration.
|Are there free and independent media?||3.003 4.004|
Peru’s dynamic press is mostly privately owned, and ownership is highly concentrated. Defamation is criminalized, and journalists are regularly convicted under such charges, though their sentences are usually suspended. In September 2020, criminal charges of aggravated defamation were filed against investigative journalist Paola Ugaz, who had written a book about alleged physical and psychological abuse within the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Catholic organization. A Lima court acquitted Ugaz on the charges in January 2022; the verdict was upheld by another court in May. Other investigations into Ugaz remain ongoing.
In the first nine months of President Castillo’s government, the Society and Press Institute (IPYS) and the Peruvian Press Council (CPP) issued more than 25 alerts about actions against press freedom in the country. Journalists critical of the Castillo administration have faced harassment and attacks by government officials and their supporters.
In February 2022, a congressional commission unanimously approved a proposed law that if passed would effectively criminalize reporting based on leaked information. The draft legislation remained under review in Congress as of April.
|Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?||4.004 4.004|
The Peruvian constitution guarantees freedom of religion and belief, and these rights are generally respected.
|Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination?||4.004 4.004|
Academic freedom is generally unrestricted. However, in May 2022, Congress passed legislation giving publicly registered parental organizations “supervisory and veto powers” over educational materials for preschool through secondary schools. Human rights organizations have expressed concern that the law may be used to restrict information along politicized lines.
|Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution?||4.004 4.004|
People are generally free to engage in private discussion without fear of retribution or surveillance.
|Is there freedom of assembly?||2.002 4.004|
The authorities generally recognize the constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly. Local disputes and protests—notably those related to extractive industries, land rights, and resource allocation among marginalized populations—at times result in instances of excessive use of force by security personnel.
A number of large protests were held during 2022, including mass antigovernment demonstrations in March and April, which saw participants protesting the Castillo administration’s economic policies amid rising inflation. Some of these protests turned violent, and a 30-day state of emergency was imposed in Lima.
In December, following the impeachment of then president Castillo, tens of thousands of protesters across the country held demonstrations in support of the ousted president, many of which turned violent. The newly installed Boluarte government deployed the military and implemented a state of emergency in response to the protests, limiting assembly rights and granting “special powers” to security forces. Violent tactics were deployed both by protesters, who burned buildings and blockaded transportation links across the country, and by security forces, who used excessive force and arbitrarily detained participants while attempting to disperse the crowds. At year’s end, hundreds of protesters and security officials had been injured, and more than two dozen protesters had been killed. Protests were ongoing at year’s end.
Score Change: The score declined from 3 to 2 because protests against the ousting of President Castillo turned violent, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people over the course of several weeks.
|Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work?||3.003 4.004|
Freedom of association is generally respected. However, efforts by environmental activists to discourage land development have been met with intimidation.
|Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations?||2.002 4.004|
Peruvian law recognizes the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. Strikes are legal with advance notification to the Ministry of Labor, but few strikers abide by this regulation. Lengthy processes involved in registering a new union create a window in which labor leaders and activists can be easily dismissed from their jobs. Short-term contracts in many industries make unionization difficult. Less than 10 percent of the formal workforce is unionized.
|Is there an independent judiciary?||2.002 4.004|
The judiciary has been perceived as one of the most corrupt institutions in the country. In 2018, Congress approved a reform leading to the creation of a new National Board of Justice (JNJ) in charge of selecting, evaluating, and disciplining judges. The establishment of the JNJ was widely praised by civil society organizations as well as academia.
Peru’s seven-member Constitutional Court has maintained sufficient autonomy to serve as a check on the other branches, and the constant tension between Congress and the executive heightens the importance of both the Court’s composition and its decisions. Indeed, observers pointed to the process of appointing six new justices as a key driver of interbranch tensions leading up to the November 2020 political crisis. However, in July 2021, a Peruvian court ordered the selection of new Constitutional Court members to be suspended due to alleged irregularities in the selection process. Despite the ruling, Congress announced that the selection process would go ahead as planned, prompting the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to urge the legislature to abide by judicial rulings.
In October of 2022, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Elvia Barrios, accused an unnamed member of the public prosecutor’s office of intimidation right before a planned visit by Organization of American States (OAS) officials to assess the political situation in the country. A preliminary OAS report on the visit, released in November, recommended the “strengthening of constitutional justice” in Peru.
|Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters?||2.002 4.004|
Constitutional guarantees of due process are unevenly upheld. Lawyers provided to indigent defendants are often poorly trained, and translation services are rarely provided for defendants who do not speak Spanish. Impunity for violence against environmental activists who challenge land development remains a problem.
Lengthy pretrial detention is common. After his December 2022 arrest, former president Castillo was sentenced to 18 months’ pretrial detention.
|Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies?||2.002 4.004|
While Peru’s murder rate is lower than many of its regional peers, violent criminal organizations operate in the narcotics and illegal mining industries, and street crime is rampant. A report published in 2021 by the National Statistics Institute (INEI) indicated that between November 2020 and April 2021, 18.6 percent of Peruvians aged 15 and over in urban areas were victimized by crime and 82.3 percent nationwide believed they would be victims of a crime. More than 172,000 criminal complaints were made to authorities between January and March 2022, marking a 101.5 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.
Abuses committed by the security forces are rarely punished. In March 2020, Congress passed a law that international rights groups criticized as generating additional barriers to police accountability.
The December 2022 protests across Peru featured high levels of violence by security forces using lethal force—including live ammunition—against protesters. International human rights groups have condemned the use of force by authorities as disproportionate; in one incident in Ayacucho, military forces killed nine protesters, including a teenage boy. Violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators continued through year’s end.
|Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?||2.002 4.004|
Discrimination against Indigenous populations and Afro-Peruvians is pervasive. LGBT+ people face discrimination, hostility, and violence. Indigenous Peruvians, who often live vast distances from under-resourced health services, were severely afflicted by COVID-19, while transgender Peruvians were subjected to police abuse during the lockdown.
In November 2022, the government issued an official apology to Azul Rojas Marín, a transgender woman who had been raped and beaten by a group of police officers in 2008. The apology was among a number of reparations mandated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which in 2020 found the Peruvian state guilty of violating Rojas’s human rights.
After Colombia, Peru has received the highest number of migrants from Venezuela. While the country was initially welcoming, public opinion shifted against tolerance, and a 2019 report by the Ministry of the Interior found that more than half of the Venezuelans residing in Peru have felt or experienced discrimination. Disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic posed additional problems for Venezuelan migrants, who were not eligible for key forms of state assistance. In January 2021, the government militarized the northern border with Ecuador in an attempt to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the country.
|Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education?||4.004 4.004|
Peru does not place formal restrictions on movement. However, the use of road blockages as a protest tactic continued in 2022, particularly during the December protests, which saw protesters block over one hundred roads across the country. Some public transport was also affected. Additionally, numerous protest-related states of emergency were imposed by both the Castillo and Boluarte administrations throughout the year, limiting free movement by civilians.
People are able to freely change their place of employment or education. While Peru’s COVID-19 lockdown was one of the most stringent in Latin America and included significant restrictions on movement, there were fewer accusations of arbitrary or abusive enforcement than in many neighboring countries.
|Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors?||3.003 4.004|
The rights to own property and establish business are mostly respected, though tensions persist between extractive industries and Indigenous communities who demand inclusion in land use policy decisions. The Prior Consultation Law is designed in part to better protect Indigenous rights. Its implementation has resulted in some positive outcomes for communities that have taken part in consultation processes—though prior consultation still does not always take place, nor are the requests of Indigenous groups binding.
|Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance?||2.002 4.004|
Gender-based violence is widespread in Peru, with more than half of Peruvian women reporting instances of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. More than 135 femicides were recorded in 2022.
Proposals to recognize civil unions for same-sex partners have been repeatedly introduced and rejected in Congress, and in November 2020 the Constitutional Court ruled against the recognition of a same-sex marriage of a Peruvian citizen performed in Mexico.
Abortion is permitted only in instances where a woman’s health is in danger. A bill that would increase restrictions on legal abortions was introduced in late 2021, and remained under consideration in the legislature as of year-end 2022.
|Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation?||2.002 4.004|
The large share of Peruvians working in the informal sector leads to widespread economic precarity. Dependence on daily earnings—and the state’s inefficiency in distributing aid—contributed to the depth of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Peruvian women and girls, especially from the Indigenous community, are vulnerable to sex trafficking. According to the US State Department’s 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report, while the Peruvian government has not met the minimum standards for effectively combating trafficking, it is making “significant” efforts to do so. However, impunity for traffickers remains common.
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Global Freedom Score70 100 partly free