Peru: the debate on the question of the death penalty revived in society

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The President of Peru Martin Vizcarra has revived the debate on the issue of the death penalty in society. AFP / Peruvian Presidency

By: Wyloën Munhoz-Boillot

In Peru, the particularly terrible rape and murder of a young girl revived the debate on the death penalty for rapists and femicide, while the country abolished the death penalty for common crimes in 1979. Asked about this measure, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra did not rule out that the reinstatement of the death penalty for these crimes be evaluated by Congress. A statement that sparked the ire of feminists, as the debate divides the Peruvians.


In the streets of Lima, opinions on the reinstatement of the death penalty for rape or feminicide are divided. It was the murder of little Camila, 4 years old, kidnapped then raped and murdered in a district north of the capital on February 29, which reopened the debate. " I am for the death penalty, because they are cruel people who rape children and kill women. And even when they promise to change, they reoffend, ”says one woman. " It is a populist measure ", thinks a man questioned on the question. " Strengthen prison sentences, but not the death penalty ".

Questioned by journalists on the occasion of women's rights day, President Martin Vizcarra replied that the reinstatement of the death penalty for rape or feminicide cases could be assessed in Congress. The president's statement caught the newly elected parliamentarians who had not yet started sitting down. Some, like the left-wing deputy and feminist activist Arlette Contreras, nevertheless quickly reacted on social networks by accusing the head of state of populism.

► Read also: Arlette Contreras, emblematic figure of feminists in Peru

The death penalty as a "deterrent"?

Others, however, such as Robinson Gupioc of the right-wing Podemos Peru party, have expressed their support for the implementation of such a measure. I am in favor of the death penalty for the perpetrators of rape or feminicide. It is not a radical measure, but adjusted to reality. Currently the state spends on average 180 to 300 euros per month for each prisoner. We cannot afford such a financial burden. That is why, depending on the crime, the perpetrators should be subjected to a drastic sanction, such as the death penalty. And also so that citizens who are thinking of committing this type of crime know what to expect . ”

The death penalty as a deterrent. An argument rejected by feminists. Alejandra Ballon is a spokesperson for the Ni Una Menos (Not a Woman Less) movement, which fights against macho violence in Peru. For her, “ We don't fight violence with violence. And let no one tell me that the death penalty has had a deterrent effect in other countries. This is a lie. "

What the Peruvian Constitution Says

But beyond each other's positions, there is the legal obstacle, as constitutional lawyer Alejandro Rospigliosi explains: “ The Peruvian Constitution recognizes the application of the death penalty only for crimes of treason and terrorism. And Peru has signed the American Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits the extension of the death penalty to crimes that were not previously envisaged by the Constitution. So extending it would constitute a violation of the Convention. "

Following the criticisms aroused by his statement, President Martin Vizcarra returned to his remarks and the Minister of Justice Fernando Castañeda clarified that the reinstatement of the death penalty was not on the agenda of this government.

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