The law provides criminal penalties for officials engaged in corruption; however, the government did not always implement the law effectively, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year. There was a widespread perception that corruption was pervasive in all branches of government.
Corruption: The Office of the Comptroller General implements and monitors anticorruption and disclosure processes required by law and informs Congress of its findings. The Office of the Comptroller General has independent authority to sanction public officials who commit corrupt acts; penalties include temporary suspension, termination of employment, and criminal prosecution. The executive branch Unit for Prosecution of Corruption Crimes reports to the minister of justice and has the lead role in prosecution of corruption crimes. All judicial districts review corruption cases in regular courts except Lima, which has a specialized anticorruption court in its Superior Court. The government Public Service Office, which reports directly to the cabinet, manages a registry of former government officials who are no longer eligible for public service due to corruption crimes. As of January 1, the list included 1,958 persons ineligible for public service. All agencies actively worked with civil society groups and operated freely and independently. Sector experts reported that the government agencies were not sufficiently resourced.
There were allegations of widespread corruption in the judicial system. The new penal procedural code, while not yet implemented in Lima and Callao, was applied to corruption cases in these judicial districts. On July 11, the Office of Judicial Control received a complaint that a judicial branch employee accepted a bribe of 500 new soles ($179) to influence a court case in Lima. As of October no new information was available on the status of this case. Nevertheless, previous bribery cases usually result in temporary suspension of the employee. As of November the Office of Judicial Control imposed 1,093 sanctions, 123 of which were permanent removals from public service and 136 of which were one-year suspensions.
During their time in office, members of Congress enjoy congressional immunity; that is, they cannot be prosecuted for any acts during their time in the legislature. In the case of flagrant crimes, the judicial branch can request that Congress lift immunity and allow the arrest of a member. By law congressional immunity does not apply to crimes committed before the member was sworn in, but it impeded most prosecutions. It also does not officially protect members of Congress from civil crimes, such as failure to fulfill contracts or pay child support. As of September the Congressional Ethics Committee was investigating eight members of Congress for questionable activities ranging from falsifying their resumes (by including false degrees and omitting prior convictions) to involvement in illegal mining, money laundering, and narcotics trafficking. On June 21, Congressman Ruben Condori was fined for noncompliance with congressional voting procedures. On September 19, Congressman Modesto Julca was suspended from office for 120 days for nepotism. As of September the government prosecutor for drug trafficking and money laundering reported that five congressmen, two regional presidents, and 11 mayors were under investigation.
On May 20, the public prosecutor began an investigation of former president Alejandro Toledo for alleged money laundering and fraud connected to real estate purchases totaling several million dollars. On August 15, Congress initiated a parallel investigation. As of November both investigations continued. On July 14, former congresswoman Nancy Obregon was arrested (along with several dozen others) on drug trafficking and terrorism charges. As of September she was being held in prison while the investigation continued.
Corruption in prisons was a serious problem, and in some cases guards cooperated with criminal bosses who oversaw the smuggling of guns and drugs into prisons. There were several reports of military corruption, impunity, and resistance to providing information on military personnel under investigation for human rights abuses committed during the country’s internal armed conflict. Security forces sought to strengthen accountability with training in human rights and the revision of disciplinary procedures but were doing so slowly.
In October 2012 lawyer Alberto Quimper, one of the accused in the Petroaudios corruption case of 2008, was released from house arrest after he had reached incarceration limits of 36 months without the court ruling on his case. As of September review of the case was pending in the judiciary.
In November 2012 the special congressional committee investigating corruption during Alan Garcia’s second administration (2006-11) concluded its investigation of Garcia’s alleged mismanagement of a nationwide high school facility remodeling program, and as of September the recommendation to prosecute was under review.
Whistleblower Protection: The law provides protection to public servants and private-sector employees for making internal disclosures or lawful public disclosures of evidence of illegality, such as solicitation of bribes or other corrupt acts, gross waste, fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, or substantial and specific dangers to public health and safety. The Office of the Comptroller General monitors whistleblower cases through the National System to Monitor Complaints. The law requires protection of whistleblower identity. Whistleblowers are protected from employer retribution and cannot be fired after they submit a complaint. If whistleblowers are harassed, the Comptroller General’s Office informs the Ministry of Labor, which is required to investigate the harassment claim. If the whistleblowers collaborated in the illegal act, their sentence may be reduced in court. If the government recovers funds as a result of the complaint, the whistleblower may receive up to 50 percent of the recovered funds. NGOs reported that whistleblowers were not sufficiently protected from employer retaliation, arbitrary firing, and harassment.
Financial Disclosure: Most public officials are subject to financial disclosure laws and must submit personal financial information to the Office of the Comptroller General prior to taking office and periodically thereafter. The Comptroller General’s Office monitors and verifies disclosures, but the laws were not strongly enforced. Declarations are made available to the public. There are administrative sanctions for noncompliance that escalate from 30-day to one-year suspensions, include bans on signing government contracts, and culminate with being barred from holding government office.
The declaration regime clearly identifies which assets, liabilities, and interests public officials must declare, but it does not include assets and income of spouses and dependent children. The law requires officials to make financial disclosures the first quarter of every year, but there are no provisions for additional declarations when changes occur in their holdings and when they enter and leave office.
On January 4, Congress institutionalized the High Commission on Anti-Corruption and upgraded its status from a working group to a technical office within the Prime Minister’s Office.
Public Access to Information: The law provides for public access to government information, and most ministries and central offices provided information on websites. Implementation of the law was incomplete, particularly outside of Lima, where few citizens exercised or understood their right to information. The ombudsman encouraged regional governments to adopt more transparent practices for releasing information and monitored their compliance with the requirement for public hearings at least twice a year.
The law requires a narrow list of exceptions outlining grounds for nondisclosure that includes classified and protected information including topics of national security, intelligence, police investigations, and advanced technology. The law requires a reasonable timeline for officials to disclose financial information, at the beginning of the first quarter of every year, and does not require the official to bear any processing fees. The law imposes administrative, but not criminal, sanctions for noncompliance. The law allows for appeals of disclosure denials. There were no reports of the government denying disclosure requests or of authorities failing to provide justification under the law. Sector experts reported that appeal mechanisms functioned.
In February the Ombudsman’s Office appealed the portion of the law that limits access to sensitive materials related to national security and defense on the grounds that it violates citizens’ right to information. As of October the appeal to the Constitutional Tribunal was pending.