On Christmas Eve last year, former president/autocrat of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, was given a humanitarian pardon by then-president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Fujimori was suffering from arrhythmia, tongue cancer and other ailments. Many saw the pardon as a political rather than humanitarian one, as Fujimori’s political allies saved Kuczynski from impeachment days before the pardon was proposed. UN experts called it a “slap in the face” to those who were affected by Fujimori’s crimes.
On October 3th, this pardon was overturned by the Peruvian Supreme Court, who ruled that the pardon was illegal and Fujimori was placed back in prison.
His sentence was initially ruled to be 25 years; this is essentially a life sentence, as he would be released at 93 years old. His deeds have been described as ‘crimes against humanity.’ He ordered firing squads, kidnappings and forced sterilization of thousands of indigenous women. However, he was officially found guilty of murder, bodily harm and two cases of kidnapping. These charges likely don’t hold a candle to what he’s actually done.
Yet behind bars or not, he still maintains popularity and remains influential in the politics of Peru. His son Kenj and daughter Keiko hold powerful positions within Peruvian politics. Based on my research, it seems that Fujimori’s pardon was political, not humanitarian. Kuczynski ran on a specifically anti-Fujimori platform- it’s not logical that he just does a complete 180 and pardons his opponent.
Let’s think about how difficult it is to put a politician, let alone a president, behind bars. Out of everyone in a society, politicians have the most connections to lawyers, as well as powerful representation. Let’s also be honest with ourselves about Fujimori… he did much more than he was convicted for. Any man that enacts a presidential coup, dismantles the entire legislative system and becomes an autocrat likely went through some extreme measures to get there.
He’s not a weak old man that has done nothing wrong, nor is he a man that should be pitied. Furthermore, his guilt is not in question.
I want to simplify the premise of this article though: is there an expiration date on crime? It depends on the crime. Should we release violent criminals early if they have terminal health issues? No.
I’ll stop dancing around it and ask, do some people deserve to die in prison? Yes. There is a scale that we somewhat unconsciously imagine in our heads when we are making our own personal decisions, but also when we are weighing the morality of other people’s actions and crimes. This scale looks different for everyone.
My scale reflects disgust for those who murder, rape and manipulate people. I am not a supporter of ‘eye for an eye’ justice, but I am a supporter of putting away evil people. If you are an evil person, you will take every measure, every precaution necessary to further your agenda, no matter who you harm. Your scale will always put you over other people.
We cannot ignore that the justice system in any country does three distinct things: punishes those who commit crimes, keeps those people away from society and communicates to society that certain actions are unacceptable.
Evil people need to be held accountable for their actions. The suffering of one man is simply incomparable to the suffering of the thousands of people that Fujimori harmed. Not many have committed crimes on the scale that Fujimori has, but I don’t necessarily think he is a special case.
I consider myself a highly empathetic person and I care about the suffering of others deeply. I just find it much more difficult to feel compassion for people like Fujimori. I can’t even imagine what the path to forgiveness and redemption would look like for a person like him. And I don’t know where he’s going to go after he dies. But I do know that if he remains incarcerated until his life ends, he will have deserved it.