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Key perspectives on social issues in Peru from UK visit

While the main topic during our visit to Peru was discussing future trade relations, the delegation also had a range of meetings to understand the challenges Peru faces with regards to social inclusion, human rights and the legacy of the conflict during the 1990s.

During our visit to Congress we participated in the Social Inclusion and Disabilities Permanent Committee session and we were asked to make a short presentation to the members of the committee. We were able to draw on our experience in the UK of adopting a social model of disability, focusing on what we can do to ensure people with disabilities can fully participate in society rather than the traditional medical model which defines people by their medical condition and their limitations. The session then took evidence from a disabled person who confirmed and talked about the social model and its application in Peru. We were pleased to see that we had much in common in wanting to ensure that those with disabilities can play their full part as citizens in our respective countries.

In meeting with the newly appointed Women’s Affairs Minister and her Deputy we had a wide ranging discussion including the on-going development of policies to tackle domestic abuse. We noted that whilst there is a clear acknowledge-ment of domestic abuse as a major social problem, policies appear to being rolled out over quite a lengthy timeframe. It was good to hear about the work going on with the Police to ensure services were better focused on the needs of victims for example around reporting. However, in looking at wider vulnerable populations we became aware that LGBTI issues were not formally part of the remit of this Ministry, and we had been told before that Peru is still one of the least progressive countries in the region with regards to LGBTI rights.

We also discussed the current situation in obtaining justice for those who had been forcibly sterilized during the 1990s, many from indigenous communities. The Minister talked about the role for Congress in making sure that this issue was resolved, although we had heard at an earlier meeting that due to the political arithmetic in the current Congress it would be very difficult to see progress on this issue.

Seeking justice for those affected by forced sterilization was also raised when we met with the Cusco MP Edgar Ochoa in Lima and the Regional Ombudswoman in Cusco. The Defensoria del Pueblo confirmed that work is still underway to identify and register those affected and is being co-ordinated centrally in Lima. We had heard at the earlier meeting with the Women’s Minister that only 5,000 people had registered so far which appears to be only a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands that are believed to have undergone this procedure. From our meeting it was clear that the role of the network of Ombudsman throughout Peru investigating alleged breaches of human rights and producing reports with recommendations is an important tool in tackling human rights violations.

Diana Johnson MP