Authorities in Peru have announced the removal of over 300 political candidates with criminal records from upcoming elections, a decision that indicates a willingness to take action, but may not be an entirely fair response.
On August 18, the president of Peru’s national electoral authority (JNE), Francisco Tavara, announced that 345 candidates who had been convicted of crimes would be excluded from the October 5 elections, reported Terra. The crimes ranged from failure to pay child support to drug trafficking, reported CNN.
This measure does not apply to candidates who have already completed their sentences, however, as they are considered rehabilitated under Peruvian law. Although Tavara recommended these candidates also be excluded from the elections, political parties will make the final decision about whether or not to remove them from the process, reported EFE.
Tavara also proposed a series of electoral law reforms, such as requiring candidates to disclose ongoing legal cases and to declare their assets.
InSight Crime Analysis
Peruvian officials have raised serious concerns about candidates for the country’s upcoming elections, in which 25 governors, 195 provincial mayors, and 1,647 district mayors will gain a seat. Last week, Interior Minister Daniel Urresti revealed that 115 candidates had been linked to drug trafficking cases, while according to Tavara, three of the 345 candidates to be excluded have been convicted for drug trafficking, three for terrorism, three for rape, and three for kidnapping.
The removal of candidates may be a response to widespread corruption, criminal ties, and impunity in Peru’s government. Three recent presidents have been implicated in criminal activity, including former President Alan Garcia, who has been investigated for allegedly granting official pardons to convicted drug traffickers in exchange for bribes. Last year, various governors, mayors and congressmen were also investigated for ties to the drug trade. In addition, the Anti-Corruption Attorney General’s Office recently reported that over 90 percent of the country’s mayors were under investigation for corruption.
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However, while the JNE’s decision to exclude candidates with current convictions indicates a commitment to keeping criminals from infiltrating the country’s government, the fairness of the measure is questionable. Some of the candidates have committed serious crimes, but Tavara said many were convicted for failure to pay child support, a crime that arguably has little impact on a candidate’s aptness for political office. The fact such a large number of candidates were removed also raises the possibility the move was politically motivated.