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Peru President backtracks on amnesty decree

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • A presidential decree would have granted amnesty to some accused of human rights violations
  • The pressure on the president has been great
  • On Monday, he asked congress to repeal his own decree

(CNN) -- Peruvian President Alan Garcia on Monday asked congress to overturn his own controversial presidential decree that critics said would have provided amnesty to human rights violators.

Decree 1097, as it is known, went into effect on September 1, and was designed as a judicial reform. But human rights organizations cried foul immediately over a part of the decree dealing with human rights violations.

The decree said, in part, that the judiciary can issue a "partial dismissal decision to the benefit of anyone facing charges whose case has suffered an excessively long investigation."

Critics said that this amounted to an amnesty for many of those facing human rights abuse charges stemming from the period of strife between the government and terrorist groups from the 1980s to 2000.

The president's advisers said that the decree would not affect the trials or sentences of the highest profile human rights abuse cases, including that of a death squad known as Grupo Colina. It also would not grant amnesty to former President Alberto Fujimori, who is imprisoned on human rights violation convictions.

Still, Garcia's administration has faced mounting pressure over the decree.

On Monday, Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa resigned his position as president of a high-level commission to preserve the memory of the victims of the years of conflict.

Vargas Llosa wrote to Garcia that he resigned specifically over Decree 1097, "because it could benefit people linked to the dictatoship and tried for crimes against human rights."

Backtracking, Garcia on Monday instructed congress to repeal the decree with urgency.