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Peru: Trumped up criminal charge against human rights lawyer Mr Jhon Kennedy Vega Carrascal
Human rights lawyer 'Mr Jhon Kennedy Vega Carrascal,' who is currently on trial on charges of aggravated violence against a public authority, could face up to 15 years imprisonment if he is found guilty on 17 September 2012.
The lawyer is the legal representative of a group of people affected by forced evictions in the vicinity of Pómac Forest in Lambayeque Province.
Jhon Kennedy Vega Carrascal has been accused of being the instigator of the violence which resulted in the deaths of three police officers and the injuries sustained by other police officials on 20 January 2009 during the carrying out of a forced eviction. If found guilty, he could face up to 15 years imprisonment under Article 367 of the Penal Code.
The charges brought against the human rights defender supposedly stem from a talk he gave to a group of people in Palería, Lambayeque Province, on 10 January 2009. In this talk, Jhon Kennedy Vega Carrascal spoke about the injustice of the then imminent forced evictions and advised the local population on their rights and the defence of their rights using non-violent means.
He asserted that the forced eviction of approximately 600 families who had been living in the community they had constructed for 20 years would be in contravention of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, highlighting the fact that the victims of the forced evictions were not going to be resettled elsewhere or compensated for the value of their homes or their crops. At no point did he mention or encourage the use of violence.
These charges have been brought against the human rights lawyer in spite of the fact that those individuals accused of carrying out the acts of violence during the eviction have stated that they do not know Jhon Kennedy Vega Carrascal and that they were not present at the talk he gave on 10 January 2009. Furthermore, the authorities have failed to produce any evidence linking the human rights lawyer to the accused.
The Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos – CNDDHH (National Coordinating Committee of Human Rights) submitted an amicus brief to the court on 12 September 2012, highlighting inter alia the fact that in order for a person to be considered the instigator of a crime, he or she must have been in communication with the person who carried out the crime.
Front Line Defenders believes that the criminal charge against Jhon Kennedy Vega Carrascal is solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate activities in the defence of human rights, particularly his efforts to advise people facing forced eviction of their rights.