The study of transitional justice is now firmly established in a large scholarly and policy literature. However, while much attention has been paid to emblematic country cases, such as Argentina, or the extraordinary development of international criminal tribunals other experiments with transitional justice have received less attention.
Perhaps more than most, Peru merits careful consideration for what it can tell us about both the scholarship and practice of transitional justice. This is the task Rebecca K. Root sets out to achieve in her compelling and richly-detailed account of transitional justice in Peru.
As Root describes it, Peru’s decade of transitional justice, commencing with the fall of the Fujimori regime in 2000, has been exhilarating and its victories bold. The striking achievements of transitional justice advocates within Peru are readily apparent, culminating in the successful prosecution by Peruvian courts of Alberto Fujimori in 2009. In so doing, Peru became the first country to convict a democratically elected head of state for human rights crimes.
It is clear that Peru has gone further and faster than most countries in advancing a transitional justice agenda, evident in a series of legal, institutional and symbolic innovations including the establishment of a highly regarded Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). It is no surprise then that Peru emerges in recent scholarship (Hayner and Olsen, Payne and Reiter) as a transitional justice success story. However, as Root notes, Peru’s ‘victories [are] so bold that they threaten to overshadow other parts of Peru’s story’.