Refining the Legal Definition of Terrorism in Peru

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The Republic of Peru stands where many countries do on the issues of terrorism, as the government vehemently opposes any group associated with terrorist activities and any person that is associated with these groups. As such, the state has produced a slew of legislative actions in an effort to define the criminal action of terrorism and bring those involved to justice. Although terrorism is less common in Peru today, the country is still plagued by localized terrorist efforts of many groups that are against the current government and police.

In 1992, the President of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, issued decree law 25475 Article 2, which defined the act of terrorism as: “an act that provokes, creates, or maintains a state of anxiety, alarm, or fear in the population or in a sector thereof, performs acts against life, the body, health, personal liberty and security, or against property, against the security of public buildings, roads, or means of communication or of transport of any type, energy or explosive materials or artifacts, or any other means capable of causing damage or grave disturbance of the public peace, or affect the international relations or the security of society and the State.

” The punishment of anyone indicted of such crime would carry with it prison time of no less than 20 years. As with many other crimes however, anyone tried for terrorist crimes is eligible for a reduced sentence if they give information leading to the arrests of the leaders of prevalent terrorist organizations, also known in this specific case as Repentant Terrorist Law.

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There are other articles that fall under the decree law 25475, including Article 7, which states that accomplices of terrorist acts receive a sentence of 6-12 years, and citizens that commit acts outside of Peru are sentenced to 6-12 years plus the stripping of their citizenship. Article 12 establishes that, as long as a judge is notified within 24 hours of detainment, any individual suspected of being a terrorist could be detained for up to 15 days. Other articles of this decree law handle the specific aspects of the trial, including the judges, witnesses, and phases. The punishment for being a terrorist is dependent on the involvement of the accused, as terrorist and rebel leaders receive a life sentence (Article 3(a)), members of terrorist organizations who commit violent acts receive a sentence of no less than 30 years (Article 3(b)), members who committed crimes of robbery, extortion, or kidnapping directed towards any governmental figure or private citizen are liable to receive no less than 25 years (Article 3(c)), and finally, any member of a terrorist organization or anyone caught collaborating with a terrorist organization is to be imprisoned for no less than 20 years (Articles 4 and 5) (Ruebener et al.). These laws were passed mainly to punish the Partido Comunista del Perú – Sendero Luminos, or known in English as the Shining Path, but these laws also are used to combat the major terrorist groups in the Middle East.

The majority of terrorist acts in the Republic of Peru have been committed by the Shining Path, a traditionally Maoist organization that has, in the past, utilized guerilla warfare to rise and attack the police and army. Their primary goal was to overthrow the government and establish a communist government in its place. The organization was most active from the 1980s to the early 2000s, but has continued to launch smaller attacks on the police. The first attacks began in 1980, when the group burned ballot boxes in Ayacucho, and in 1982 officially formed the People’s Guerilla Wing, who fought off in the countryside in Mao’s style. In counter to this group and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionaries, the government of Peru declared a state of emergency and suspended constitutional rights for a short time, and in that time, the government created a special military zone in Ayacucho, a place where Shining Path was centralized. The military was generally known to continually violate human rights in their hunt and interrogation of suspected terrorists, going so far as to torture and kill a suspect and rape his wife.

Currently, the Shining Path is a shell of what it once was, though it is still active in southern Peru. The group acts mostly alone; however, they still work with some major cocoa producers to move product. The time between 1980-2000 indicated that of a great political strife, brought on mostly by the Shining Path and MRTA, and the government committed many atrocities in order to rid the country of them. Fujimori’s successor, President Alejandro Toledo, officially apologized for the government’s actions towards innocent civilians following the war, as many poor indigenous peasants were killed or displaced during the conflict. Also following the conflict, the Constitutional Tribunal refined Fujimori’s definition of terrorism by deleting some sections that were unconstitutional, including the life imprisonment for civilians tried for treason.

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Refining the Legal Definition of Terrorism in Peru. (2022, May 15). Retrieved from

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