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Statement to the media by the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, on the conclusion of its official visit to Peru, 25 February-4 March, 2020


Lima, 4 March 2020

  1. The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent thanks the Government of Peru for its invitation to visit the country and for its cooperation. We thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights for organizing the visit. We also thank the United Nations in Peru for their support to the visit.
  2. The views expressed in this statement are of a preliminary nature. Our final report will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2020.
  3. During the visit, the Working Group assessed the human rights situation of people of African descent in Peru, and gathered information on the forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and related intolerance they face. The Working Group studied measures and mechanisms to prevent systemic racial discrimination and to protect victims of racism, as well as responses to multiple forms of discrimination.
  4. As part of its fact-finding mission, the Working Group visited Lima, Yapatera, Piura, Chiclayo, Chincha and Ica. It met with senior officials of the Peruvian Government at the national and provincial levels, Afro-Peruvians, civil society, and United Nations entities working to promote the rights of people of African descent. It also met with the Office of the Ombudsperson and visited the Casa de la Cultura in Yapatera and the exhibit “La Arquelogoia de la Esclavitud en las Haciendas de Nasca” at the Museo Regional de Ica.
  5. We thank Afro-Peruvian civil society, human rights defenders, lawyers and academics whom we met during the visit. We welcome their efforts to promote and protect the rights of Afro-Peruvians.
  6. The Working Group welcomes the many good practices and positive steps taken to guarantee the human rights of people of African descent in Peru including the following:
  7. The 2009 historic apology by the Government to Afro-Peruvians for abuse, exclusion and discrimination: 
  8. The adoption of the National Development Plan for the Afro-Peruvian Population 2016-2020 (PLANDEPA), approved by Supreme Decree No. 003-2016-MC in 2015.
  9. The work of the Ministry of Culture’s Directorate for Afro-Peruvians and the issuance of several studies and publications on Afro-Peruvians and racial discrimination.
  10. The formation of the National Afro-Peruvian Council and the Working Group for Afro-Peruvians.
  11. The work of the Office of the Ombudsperson in promoting human rights for Afro-Peruvians and advising on the implementation of anti-discrimination policies.
  12. The inclusion for the first time of a racial self-identification variable in the 2017 census and collection of disaggregated data on Afro-Peruvians by the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI).
  13. The draft law 37/93 of 2018 on the prevention, elimination and punishment of racism and racial discrimination.
  14. Demonstrated insight and commitment to address racial discrimination suffered by Afro-Peruvians by public officials at the national, regional and local levels.
  15. Campaigns to address racial stereotypes and prejudice, including the “Warning against Racism” and “Small Actions for Big Objectives”. 
  16. The dedication of the month of June to the celebration of Afro-Peruvian culture and heritage. 
  17. Civil society initiatives to promote and protect the human rights of people of African descent and raise awareness about Afro-Peruvian identity, and
  18. Efforts by the Government to implement the Programme of Activities of the International Decade for people of African descent.
  19. Approval of the Human Rights National Action Plan which includes Afro-Peruvians as a vulnerable group.
  20. The inclusion of Afro-Peruvians as a target group in Public Defense Services  to improve their access to justice.
  21. The elaboration of a Business and Human Rights Plan, that will include Afro-Peruvians. 
  22. Approval of the Protocol on Human Rights Defenders which includes Afro-Peruvian Human Rights Defenders.
  23. Despite the positive measures referred to above, the Working Group is concerned about the prevalence of racial discrimination and the human rights situation of people of African descent in Peru.
  24. The 2017 Perceptions survey found that that 60% of Peruvians perceive racial discrimination against Afro-Peruvian people, but only 8% of Peruvians perceive themselves to be racist or perpetuating racism.
  25. Systemic discrimination and institutional invisibility are legacies of the past when Afro-Peruvians lost the basic human right to their legal identity and remained invisible in laws, legislation and policies. State institutions do not reflect the diversity of Peru’s population.
  26. The recognition of Afro-Peruvians as a distinct group is essential. Part of the visibility and development discourses for Afro-Peruvians is the acknowledgment of collective rights.  Afro-Peruvians’ status as a people, under ILO Convention 169, and the resulting rights framework under international law offers necessary protection to Afro-Peruvians.  Civil society underlines the importance of recognition of Afro-Peruvians as a ‘people’ rather than ‘population’ to avoid an institutional denial of collective rights, barriers to certain rights, and a suppression of Afro-Peruvian identity.
  27. The Government has not implemented a mechanism of repair to remediate the harm, including ongoing invisibility of the Afro-Peruvian population in the intercultural dialogue and its differences from the indigenous population. Popular conceptions of interculturality often exclude Afro-Peruvian identities, compromise collective rights, and result in exclusion from delivery of public services.
  28. CONACOD has an important role, but limited impact to tackle discrimination in an effective way regarding racial discrimination, racism and xenophobia and needs to be strengthened.
  29. The inclusion of self-identification variable in the 2017 Census is an important step and a demonstration of Peru’s commitment to making visible and offering social protection to Afro-Peruvians. 
  30. However, the successful launch of the self-identification variable also revealed concerns. These include: (1) how the broad but necessary category of mestizo dilutes and obscures the numbers of Afro-Peruvians, and (2) how, at the regional and local levels, the design of the sample for the census occults analysis of Afro-Peruvian experience.
  31. PLANDEPA (2016-2020) has not been adequately implemented. The Office of the Ombudsperson issued a 2020 report evaluating PLANDEPA and noted that lack of implementation began with lack of political will.  Only 8 out of 19 ministries agreed to implement PLANDEPA. The Ombudsperson also noted the impact of the lack of regulations specifying clear authority to implement PLANDEPA.  Only the regional governments of Ica and Piura issued specific ordinances to elaborate plans to implement PLANDEPA.
  32. The Working Group is concerned that there is no clarity on specific funding, resources, structure, and authority to promote and protect the human rights of Afro-Peruvians post-PLANDEPA.
  33. Throughout the public sector, denial of access to public administration, public goods and public services for Afro-Peruvians results from the lack of implementation of Peru’s existing anti-discrimination framework.  The lack of investment in public utilities, infrastructure and irrigation, formalization of land title, education, and health have created a comprehensive lack of access to basic services and the denial of core human rights for many Afro-Peruvians.
  34. Similarly, public investments in human capital, research, and development have ignored the potential within the Afro-Peruvian community at every socioeconomic and educational level, including by ignoring the academic researchers investigating these persistent realities.  Even periods of widespread economic growth in Peru saw significant decreases in the socioeconomic status of Afro-Peruvians.
  35. Private sector employers have leveraged the desperation of these communities and Afro-Peruvians report exploitation in the private sector and a lack of recourse for extreme forms of exploitation by agribusiness employers. 
  36. Access to justice for Afro-Peruvians remains a concern. Civil society reported that Afro-Peruvians are unable to access the justice system due to financial constraints, racial and gender discrimination, and the absence of police and other state services in remote rural areas.
  37. We welcome INDECOPI’s analysis and resolutions against racial discrimination.
  38. Section 323 of Peru’s penal code criminalizes racial discrimination, but it is little-used by Afro-Peruvians. The law is currently being revised to eliminate subjectivity, to make the norms of anti-discrimination more enforceable, and create clear standards.
  39. The Working Group was also informed about xenophobia and hate speech towards Venezuelan migrants (some of whom are of African descent) by government officials, politicians and the media.
  40. The pervasiveness of structural discrimination faced by Afro-Peruvians is reflected in the disparities in education, employment, housing, health, and the adequate standard of living. Some Afro-Peruvians lacked bridges to cross the river, paved streets, waste removal, access to primary care facilities and no recourse for complex health needs.
  41. Bullying and discrimination in schools on the basis of race is reported by a significant percentage of students; its impact to educational performance reflects the mutually reinforcing nature of poverty and racial discrimination.
  42. Education is an engine for development, and an indispensable tool to eradicate poverty and discrimination, and promote social mobility for Afro-Peruvians.
  43. Afro-Peruvians suffer disproportionately from unequal access to quality education, particularly in rural areas. In Ica, civil society informed the Working Group of the closure of universities, schools with leaking classrooms, no tap water, and not enough textbooks.
  44. Afro-Peruvian women and girls suffer disproportionately from lack of access to education and high illiteracy levels. In addition, Afro Peruvians’ access to any form of higher education was substantially below the national average.
  45. Afro-Peruvians suffer disproportionately from hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiac problems. Afro-Peruvian children in particular suffer from malnutrition and anaemia.
  46. Afro-Peruvians face employment discrimination. Peruvian academic researchers demonstrated that fictitious white applicants received 19% more callbacks for interviews than similarly qualified fictitious Afro-Peruvian applicants. Afro-Peruvian women work in large numbers in domestic work and are subjected to sexual violence, discrimination and racism.
  47. Afro-Peruvians are subjected to shocking living and working conditions at the hands of agribusiness, oil, and hydroelectric production including unconscionable contracts; denying Afro-Peruvians access to safe drinking water, and compromising Afro-Peruvian fishing areas. In some cases, the environmental impact statements accredit Afro-Peruvian traditions of music, dance, and food without acknowledging or assessing how the water rights and basic needs of Afro-Peruvian communities will be impacted.
  48. Afro-Peruvians lack access to appropriate housing and land title, despite living on their lands for centuries in some cases. The Ministry of Housing demonstrated insight on the persistent challenges Afro-Peruvians face, including the historical lack of land title. In Lima and Ica, ministry representatives cited plans to design specific programming to navigate obstacles facing Afro-Peruvians.
  49. The Working Group is concerned that the Afro-Peruvian Museum is closed and has not been formally designated as a museum in its 12 years of operation. 
  50. In 2014, 13% of Afro-Peruvian children reported discrimination based on skin colour in schools. Afro-Peruvian women have the lowest percentage of secondary education in rural areas. Their illiteracy rate is double that of Afro-Peruvian men.  
  51. Afro-Peruvian human rights defenders and civil society organizations suffer violence, harassment, death threats, stigmatization, intimidation and racism.
  52. 13% of Afro-Peruvians were above the age of 60 years, according to the 2017 census. The absence of any national policy on elderly Afro-Peruvians puts them at risk given the lack of specific social protection. 
  53. Afro-Peruvians also reported complex, intersectional forms of discrimination.  Afro-Peruvian women’s access to health is complicated by stereotyping, health assumptions based on race, cultural insensitivity, disregard for their humanity, and mistreatment. In addition, Afro-Peruvian women detailed experiences of racialized harassment in reporting sexual assault and domestic violence to the police.
  54. Afro-Peruvian LGBTQI+ persons referenced exclusion, invisibility, sexual violence, and lack of protection for transgender people. According to civil society, the draft national policy for culture excluded recognition of the unique and specific context of women, disabled persons, migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, and LGTBQI+ persons of African descent.  The Working Group heard consistent testimonies of exclusion from women farmers, women trade union leaders, and women domestic workers.
  55. Climate change is having a negative impact on Afro-Peruvians, particularly for peasants and those living in rural and coastal areas of Peru. This is compounded by the fact that Peru is susceptible to natural disasters including floods, drought, earthquakes and landslides. In addition, mitigation measures such as widening of rivers are taking place without consultations and participation of concerned Afro-Peruvian communities.
  56. Positively, Peru has recently passed the Climate Change Framework Law, to create an institutional framework to address climate change.
  57. Civil society reported that school is often a site of racial stereotype, racist jokes, insults, and even violence.  These stereotypes also feed the impunity of discrimination based on skin colour for Afro-Peruvians in public spaces outside the schools, including restaurants and social venues. 
  58. Portrayals of people of African descent invoking long-held racial stereotypes and racial bias, including the use of blackface and the demoting of Afro-Peruvians to negative or ancillary statuses, are evident in the advertising of consumer products, and in programming.
  59. During the country visit, members of the Working Group viewed the blackface television program, Negro Mama, airing on the Frecuencia Latina network, despite acknowledgment, apology, and a significant fine several years ago.  The show trades on negative racial stereotypes associating People of African descent with ignorance, criminality, licentiousness, sexually transmitted disease, drugs, and violence.  The Working Group also observed in Lima and in Chincha the use of giant blackface puppets for advertising purposes. 


  61. The following recommendations are intended to assist Peru in its efforts to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and related intolerance.
  62. The Working Group would like to reinforce the recommendations made by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that Peru adopt a comprehensive national policy against racism and racial discrimination that will promote social inclusion and reduce the high levels of inequality and poverty affecting Afro-Peruvians.
  63. The Directorate of Afro-Peruvian Affairs within the Ministry of Culture should receive adequate dedicated, multi-year funding to support its efforts and leadership in this area. 
  64. The competent agencies in each sector and at every level of government should designate specific personnel and funding to implement policies promoting and protecting the rights of Afro-Peruvians.
  65. In the Policy on Intercultural Approach, the Government should clarify what funding, personnel, and other resources will be devoted specifically to Afro-Peruvians and what measures will ensure that Afro-Peruvians are visible and positively impacted.
  66. The Government should revise its anti-discrimination legislation to conform with General Recommendation No. 35 (2013) on combating racist hate speech; General Recommendation No. 25 (2000) on the gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination (Art. 5) in all policies and strategies for combating racial discrimination. Section 323 of the penal code should be revised according to the existing proposed text shown to the Working Group by the public prosecutor’s office.
  67. The important role of the Office of the Ombudsperson to monitor the human rights situation of people of African descent should be recognized and adequately funded, with stable and ongoing support from the state. In addition, the Government is encouraged to implement the Ombudsperson’s recommendations, contained in its report on the PLANDEPA (2020).
  68. Peru should fully implement the antidiscrimination regulatory framework, including promoting public awareness of this form of social protection and the ability to submit claims as well as the impositions of sanctions where appropriate.
  69. Action should be taken to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas for the benefit of Afro-Peruvians.
  70. The Government should recognize the collective rights of the Afro-Peruvian people.
  71. The Government should ensure that public institutions incorporate an ethno-racial variable into their administrative record-keeping and data-collection methods on a systematic basis.
  72. The Government is urged to facilitate the process of reparatory justice for Afro-Peruvians and to consider adopting the CARICOM Ten Point Plan for Reparatory Justice.
  73. As part of its bicentennial plans, the Government should, in consultation with civil society, recognize and give visibility to Afro-Peruvians who fought in the liberation struggle, and to acknowledge the cultural, economic, political, scientific and intellectual contributions of Afro- Peruvians  through the establishment of monuments, memorial sites, the renaming of streets, schools, municipal, regional and other government buildings, and other means, in their honour.
  74. In preparing the next census, and other public research and administrative data, the Government should further clarify the variable of mestizo.  The Working Group recommends: (a) a follow-up inquiry to self-identified mestizos as to what ethnicities/races make up their self-identity; (b) a mechanism allowing people to identify with multiple racial or ethnic categories in the census and other surveys incorporating self-identification, or (c) a similar intervention to enhance the accuracy of the data pertaining to people of African descent in Peru.
  75. All administrative records should include and standardize the self-identification variable, as defined by INEI, internally in government agencies and with respect to consumers of public services.
  76. The capacity of each sector to collect and use data should be developed in favour of their role to promote the human rights of people of African descent.
  77. INEI should design of the census sample for the next census and beyond should facilitate effectively analyse data pertaining to Afro-Peruvian communities regionally, and locally.
  78. The Working Group urges political leaders to refrain from using hate speech against migrants from Venezuela.
  79. The government should financially support and draw upon the development of academic research on the Afro-Peruvian community. 
  80. The Government should adopt measures to increase the number of teachers of African descent in educational institutions.
  81. The Government should enact new preventive and affirmative public policy to address the high dropout rate of Afro-Peruvian children from schools.
  82. The Government should adopt measures, including affirmative action policies, at all levels of education for Afro-Peruvians, as a means for the Government to recognize the existence and impact of structural discrimination and to combat it.
  83. Ensure that quality education is accessible and available in areas where communities of Afro-Peruvians live, particularly in rural and marginalized communities. The Government should commit to re-open schools and universities that were closed, or provide alternative equivalents to formerly matriculated students.
  84. The Government should revise and develop specific curricula and corresponding teaching materials which respect and recognize history, including the transatlantic trade in Africans, the role of Afro-Peruvians in Peru’s independence, and their contribution to the development, diversity and richness of the county.
  85. The Government should ensure that textbooks and other educational materials reflect historical facts accurately related to past tragedies and atrocities affecting Afro-Peruvians, to avoid stereotypes and the distortion or falsification of these historic facts, which may lead to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
  86. Peru must enact new preventive and affirmative public policy to reduce racial disparities and narrow the gaps in access to health care and quality of care provided to Afro-Peruvians.
  87. The Working Group urges the Government to adopt a systematic and more effective policy for fighting anaemia and malnutrition.
  88. In order to address racial disparities in employment, quotas and incentives should be introduced and effectively implemented within the private and public sectors. Educational interventions to build social capital, social networking, and job readiness should be prioritized for all Afro-Peruvians.
  89. The Government should ensure that Afro-Peruvians have access to adequate housing, including assisting in formalization of title to their lands and designing programs to address barriers, including lack of credit, down payment, or land title.
  90. The Government should oversee the operations of agribusiness and curb exploitative labour and employment practices, unconscionable contracts, wage theft, and the de facto extension of the workday without compensation or overtime pay. Agribusiness leasing, particularly in the region of Ica, should be fair and symmetrical with fifteen-year contracts for payment mirroring fifteen-year contracts to lease land, set in dollars, or another stable currency.
  91. The Government should require that all environmental impact assessments detail their impact on Afro-Peruvian communities, including water access.
  92. The Government should formalize the status of the Afro-Peruvian museum. The Government should also consider using the site in Lima named after Nicomedes de Santa Cruz as a site of memory.
  93. The Government should provide meaningful protection of human rights for Afro-Peruvian women and children.
  94. The Working Group urges the government to adequately fund and strengthen the capacity of Afro-Peruvian civil society and adopt effective measures to prevent violence against human rights defenders and fast track the creation of the registry for human rights defenders.
  95. The Government should develop a national policy for elderly Afro-Peruvians in particular. Older persons of African descent should be considered as specific right holders and agents of change.
  96. The Government should recognize that neutral policies may have racialized impact and routinely investigate and address intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination affecting Afro-Peruvians, including structural discrimination faced by Afro-Peruvians in accessing public administration, goods, and services.
  97. The Government should take action to address and mitigate climate change in partnership and consultations with Afro-Peruvians including by fully implementing the Climate Change Framework Law.
  98. As international agencies and other mandates have noted, the Government should increase efforts to dismantle the powerful stigmatization of race and racial stereotypes perpetuated in Peruvian media. 
  99. Peru’s bicentennial falls in the middle of the International Decade for People of African Descent.  While Peru has acknowledged the International Decade, the Bicentennial offers an important opportunity to recognize the contributions of people of African descent, to build a repository of Afro- Peruvian culture, and re-negotiate Peruvian national identity to include Afro-Peruvians.
  100. The Working Group would like to reiterate its satisfaction at the Government’s willingness to engage in dialogue, cooperation and action to combat racial discrimination. We hope that our report will support the Government in this process and we express our willingness to assist in this important endeavour.