REPORT Nº 56/98
December 8, 1998
1. On January 22, 1998, attorneys Ramsey Clark, Thomas H. Nooter, and Grimaldo Achahui
Loaiza filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the
"Commission") on behalf of Lori Berenson, a United States citizen, against the Republic of Peru
(hereinafter "the State" or "Peru"). The petition states that Miss Berenson was sentenced to
life imprisonment by "faceless" military courts in Peru, which tried her in proceedings that
violated the guarantees established in the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter
"the Convention" or "the American Convention").
2. According to the petitioners, Lori Berenson, age 28, had gone to Peru a year before her
arrest. Her attorneys further contend that the alleged victim did not commit, plan, or ever
intend to carry out any acts of violence in Peru.
3. The petitioners assert that on November 30, 1995, Lori Berenson was arrested and
interrogated illegally for several days and nights by the police, without benefit of a defense
counsel. She was subsequently questioned in the presence of her attorney by the prosecutor
and examining magistrate, both of whom were members of the military. Throughout the trial,
the Court did not inform the defendant of the charges of which she was accused and she was
not permitted to challenge testimony or cross-examine witnesses. Nor was she permitted to
produce evidence attesting to her innocence. Around January 11, 1996, Lori Berenson was
sentenced to life imprisonment by a "faceless" military court.
4. The decision was appealed and another "faceless" military court dismissed the appeal. Lori
Berenson then appealed to the Supreme Military Court composed of five anonymous officers
and that Court upheld the sentence. Finally, her attorneys filed an appeal for review which was
denied on April 3, 1997.
5. The petitioners further state that during her detention Miss Berenson was subjected to cruel,
inhumane, and degrading treatment.
6. According to the petition, the trial against Lori Berenson by "faceless" military courts was a
violation of the following international guarantees established in the American Convention:
Right to be notified and informed of the charges against the accused (Articles 7(4) and
Right to consult with legal counsel (Article 8(2)(d);
Right not to testify against oneself (Article 8(2)(g);
Right to examine witnesses testifying against the accused (Article 8(2)(f);
Right to be present when evidence is presented against the accused (Article 8(2)(c);
Right to adequate time and resources to prepare a defense (Article 8(2)(c);
Right to be accused only of crimes recognized as such by international standards (Article