The Committee considered the initial report of Peru
(E/1990/5/Add.29) at its 15th, 16th and 17th meetings,
held on 7 and 9 May 1997, and adopted the following
concluding observations at its 26th meeting, held on
16 May 1997.
The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State
party for submitting its initial report and for the
written replies to the list of issues, although they
were not presented to the Committee in time for them
to be translated and for its members to study them in
The Committee also expresses its thanks to the Government
of Peru for sending a high-level delegation headed by
the Minister of Justice, which replied to most of the
questions asked orally and offered to forward information
on those questions that were left unanswered or were
not satisfactorily answered.
4. The Committee nevertheless regrets that the written
and oral information submitted by the State party was
essentially legalistic and heavily focused on civil
and political rights, and that it excessively concerned
the successes achieved by the Government's social policy,
rather than providing detailed information on the actual
state of economic, social and cultural rights in Peru.
The Committee wishes to express its gratitude to the
United Nations agencies and Peruvian non-governmental
organizations which provided it with documents that
made a valuable contribution to the dialogue.
B. Positive aspects
The Committee notes the statement by the State party's
delegation to the effect that the State party has begun
a process of social reform involving amendments to legislation,
and notes the establishment of new institutions and
the implementation of programmes in various spheres.
The Committee notes with satisfaction that a number
of discriminatory legal provisions that used to exist,
particularly relating to women, have been eliminated.
The Committee welcomes the establishment of the Ministry
for the Promotion of Women and Human Development.
The Committee notes with satisfaction the establishment
of the National Social Compensation and Development
Fund, which carries out assistance projects and projects
to encourage the development of medium and small sized
The Committee notes with satisfaction the reforms introduced
by the Government to improve the educational system
and to make it accessible to all sectors of society.
It views the literacy and school-building programmes
to foster the education of children and adults in rural
areas and the comprehensive assistance programme for
children as positive steps towards ensuring realization
of the right to education. The indigenous-language literacy
and education programmes are also of particular importance,
as, beyond their practical objectives, they help to
preserve indigenous languages and to strengthen the
cultural identity of the groups speaking the languages
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Covenant
Peru is made up of three distinct societies, living
almost independently one of the others, divided along
ethnic, economic, social, cultural and linguistic lines.
At the bottom of the pyramid live the bulk of the population,
namely the indigenous Indians of the Alto Plano or the
mountains and the Amazonian Jungle. Most of them do
not speak Spanish, but Quechua or Imaru; they are extremely
isolated and marginalized. They are thus not in a position
to exercise effectively their economic, social and cultural
Given the situation described above, the Committee,
although aware of the high cost of rebuilding the infrastructure
destroyed during many years of internal violence, is
of the opinion that the greatest obstacles to the fulfilment
of the economic, social and cultural rights are, inter
(a) the failure to address the persistent and serious
problems of poverty; 60% of Peruvians live beneath the
poverty line and do not enjoy proper health and educational
(b) gross inequality in the distribution of wealth among
(c) the failure to implement agrarian reforms;
(d) the lack of proper health services and the drastic
reduction of public expenditures in the field of health;
(e) the impoverishment of state schools over the past
decade, coupled with a decline in teachers' salaries
and the consequent deterioration in educational standards
accompanied by the increasing poverty of families; and
(f) the acute forms of discrimination that particularly
afflict women, indigenous people and other minority
groups, and the existence of great inequalities permeating
D. Principal subjects of concern
The Committee notes with concern that the 1993 Constitution
has not incorporated the provisions of the Covenant,
which consequently do not constitute a part of domestic
law and therefore cannot be invoked before Peruvian
courts. This situation is contrary to what had been
the case under the 1979 Constitution, which had incorporated
the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee notes
the information contained in the State party's report
(paras. 126 and 127 among) that, before being definitively
incorporated in the 1993 Constitution, any human rights
treaty signed by Peru must first be approved by Congress
by a two-third majority and then ratified by the President.
The Peruvian delegation failed to give the Committee
a straightforward answer indicating that those steps
had been taken by the State party vis-à-vis the Covenant.
Among the rights contained in the Covenant which were
recognized and incorporated in the 1979 Constitution,
but which have so far been left out of the 1993 Constitution,
(a) the right to a decent standard of living (article
2 of the 1979 Constitution);
(b) the rights to food and adequate housing (article
(c) the equality of opportunities and responsibilities
between men and women (article 2); and
(d) labour rights in general.
The Committee further notes that, under the 1993 Constitution,
international human rights instruments are on the same
level as domestic laws and that a recent decision of
the Supreme Court of Justice stated that the provisions
of those instruments do not have constitutional status.
The Committee is particularly concerned at the insufficiency
of the fulfilment of the rights of indigenous and black
populations to education. It notes for example that
about 22% of Quechua speaking inhabitants of Peru, and
among them 31% of females over 6 year old, receive no
schooling at any level. This situation has lately been
aggravated as a result of the decline in government
expenditures relative to GDP.
Most of the Indian and Mestizo populations of Peru,
which amount to over three quarters of the country's
total population, are extremely poor, and the Committee
notes with concern the precariousness of the health
situation of these people. The Committee finds that
poor women with no education have a maternal mortality
rate ten times higher than that of educated women.
The Committee notes with concern that there are various
forms of discrimination against women, particularly
in the areas of education and employment.
The Committee is concerned that many workers do not
earn the minimum wage fixed by law. It is also concerned
that the minimum wage is lower than the cost of the
basic shopping basket, as the Peruvian delegation itself
recognized. The characterization of young people aged
16 to 25 as "apprentices" and their resulting exclusion
from coverage by the relevant labour legislation is
also a major source of concern to the Committee.
The Committee is concerned about the ineffectiveness
of labour legislation to protect trade union rights,
including the right to strike. As a result, despite
the Government of Peru's declared policy of strengthening
the labour inspection services and introducing changes
to the monitoring and application of labour norms, the
basic rights of workers are frequently violated.
The Committee is concerned that the bulk of the population
is excluded from any form of social security because
of the existence of a sizeable informal sector in the
The Committee is concerned by the modification of the
national pension scheme by law-decree No. 25967 and
by the new legislation on the private pension scheme
under law-decree No. 25897, which, according to various
sources of information including the ILO, have prejudiced
The Committee is also concerned with the situation of
pension rights' cases pending since 1992 which, according
to information received by the Committee, affect some
50.000 pensioners who have not received their pensions.
With respect to the civil servants affected by decree
No. 817, the pending cases affect 280.000 pensioners
and 50.000 active workers.
The Committee is concerned about the high mortality
rate among children and women due to the lack or inadequacy
of proper health services.
The Committee is concerned about the large number of
child workers and street children in Peru and the inadequacy
of the measures taken by the Government to combat these
The Committee notes with concern the high levels of
illiteracy, truancy and school drop-outs.
The Committee is concerned about the great number of
forced evictions of people in the Amazon basin, resulting
in the destruction of their habitat and way of life.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
In the view of the Committee, the introduction and implementation
of much-needed social justice measures, i.e.
political, economic and social reforms, are needed in
order to break the vicious circle of violence and counter
violence, and to win over the indigenous population,
the peasants and other under-privileged sectors of Peruvian
The Committee also calls upon the Government to make
a greater effort to translate the Covenant into appropriate
indigenous languages and to give more publicity to its
The Committee recommends that the State party's next
periodic report contain specific information on the
activities of the Defender of the People and those of
the Court of Constitutional Guarantees in the field
of human rights, especially with regard to the protection
of economic, social and cultural rights.
The Committee urges the State party to take effective
action to eliminate all forms of discrimination and
marginalization that afflict indigenous populations
in the enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural
The Committee recommends that the Government of Peru
take steps to guarantee equality between men and women
in all fields.
The Committee recommends that the State party make the
necessary efforts to ensure compliance with the legislation
on minimum wage, safety and health in the workplace,
equal pay for equal work for men and women and the legal
recognition of young people from 16 to 25 years of age
as workers. To that end, the Committee stresses that
sufficient resources should be allocated to the labour
inspection services to enable them to perform their
task properly. It also recommends that the State party
take steps to ensure that the private pension system
is not promoted to the detriment of the State party's
obligations towards the public pension system, in terms
of safeguarding pensioners' acquired rights.
The Committee recommends that urgent steps be taken,
in particular by raising the awareness of employers
and state agents, with a view to fully guaranteeing
the right to engage in trade-union activities and the
right to strike.
The Committee recommends that the State party, in cooperation
with UNICEF and ILO, launch a programme to combat the
exploitation of child labour and the abandonment and
exploitation of street children. The Committee recommends
that other steps be taken to prevent and combat the
use of child labour, based on the full observance of
international standards relating to the minimum age
for the employment of children, as set forth in ILO
Convention No. 138, which it would be appropriate for
Peru to ratify.
The Committee calls on the state party to improve the
working conditions of domestic employees and make them
consistent with the obligations under the Covenant.
The Committee encourages the State party to take steps
to improve the health care system and extend it to all
sections of the population.
The Committee recommends that the Government of Peru
increase its investments in education. The Committee
recalls in this respect the State party's obligation
to ensure compulsory and free primary education to all
children in Peru, with a view to reducing the illiteracy
The Committee recommends that the State party should
consider ratifying the Additional Protocol to the American
Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights.
The Committee recommends that the Peruvian authorities
take immediate measures to put a stop to the forced
evictions of people, especially in the Amazonian basin.
The Committee calls upon Peru to submit as soon as possible
all the relevant information which it had failed to
provide during the consideration of the present report.
The State party should in particular give detailed information
on the legislative and other measures and practices
adopted in connection with the rights to adequate housing
and the right to social security, particularly in relation
to the functioning of the system of pensions.