Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Letter to David Triesman about the Peruvian NGO law

I write to you as the President of the Peru Support Group and supported by a number of organisations who work and have partner NGOs in Peru.

We are very concerned about the amendments by the Peruvian Congress of the law which created the Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation (Law nr. 27692) (APCI). The changes proposed include increased control by APCI over the internal workings of NGOs, including intrusive financial oversight, and will make it compulsory for NGOs to subscribe to the APCI register. Under the amended law, if the APCI considers that the activities of a particular NGO do not adhere to the Government’s National Development Plan, the NGO’s APCI registration may be cancelled without any preliminary warning, and without any right of appeal.

This change in the law will contravene a number of fundamental rights protected by the Peruvian constitution and by international human rights agreements to which Peru is party, including freedom of association and freedom of employment.

Transparency is vital to democracy, but the obligatory registration and governmental control over the activities and finances of NGOs are inimical to the development of a strong and dynamic civil society.

This threat to the autonomy of NGOs follows recent criticisms by government spokespersons of the activities of a number of highly regarded human rights organisations, in particular the Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL). In fact here is a history of attacks by government on their human rights critics in Peru, and the new legislation will undermine the freedom of NGOs to criticise governments and their policies.

The amendments in question were approved last week by the Peruvian Congress, but are yet to be ratified by President Alan GarcĂ­a.

Please will you ask our Ambassador in Lima to relay our concern for the protection of the freedom of civil society in Peru, and particularly for the organisations with which we work.

Eric Avebury
President Peru Support Group

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