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News > Latin America

Peru Creates Bank of Genetic Data to Find Disappeared

  • Peru's Ministry of Justice estimated over 20,000 people were disappeared between 1980 - 2000.

    Peru's Ministry of Justice estimated over 20,000 people were disappeared between 1980 - 2000. | Photo: EFE

Published 8 September 2018

The law creates a database of DNA samples of the relatives of the disappeared to cross-check them with genetic information of unidentified human remains.

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra approved a law Friday to create a Bank of Genetic Data to help the country identify people who were disappeared during the bloody internal conflict between Peru’s security forces and the communist guerrilla known as Shining Path between 1980 - 2000.

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The bank will collect DNA samples of all the relatives of disappeared people to cross-check the data with the genetic information of unidentified human remains which have been found.

“This bank of genetic data is extremely important, not only for the relatives but for all Peruvians because as people who lost their loved one find relief by identifying the remains that relief will be for all Peruvians,” Vizcarra said during the signing ceremony.

Vizcarra also stressed that the state’s responsibility goes beyond economic reparations and must guarantee “justice and humanity.” The country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission revealed in 2003 that during the internal conflict members of Peru’s security forces kidnapped, tortured and murdered guerillas and people suspected of being guerrillas. Most of the victims were indigenous people in rural areas with little or no access to the justice system and attacked by both the military and the Shining Path.

Peru’s Ministry of Justice estimates that approximately 20,329 people were disappeared in two decades of conflict.

Juana Carrio, president of the National Association of Relatives of Peru’s Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared (Anfasep) said: “Those affected by violence feel happy because we know that with this law we will find many of our relatives.”

In 2016, Peru approved another law to facilitate the identification and return of human remains. The Law to Search for Disappeared People allowed for the exhumation, identification, and return of human remains despite lack of a formal complaint or viable legal case.   

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