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Last updated 20 February 2013
NGOs in Peru have had an important role to play because of its history of military rule, democratic instability and corruption. Although NGOs existed in Peru previously, an NGO boom only began in the 1970s under the Velasco government. This expansion of the NGO sector was able to occur originally because of the supportive atmosphere of reform in the country. There was a second boom of NGOs in the 1980 with the re-emergence of a democratic regime, which had a heavy focus on grassroots issues. Because of the political sphere in which many of these organizations emerged, they were heavily committed to the idea of development that did not originate in a top-down approach. High levels of corruption, particularly under the Fujimori regime, coupled with a very politically-left NGO community, has led to tensions with the government, and a crack-down on NGO activities.
|Registration Body||Public Registry||Public Registry and Supervisory Council on Foundations||Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation|
|Barriers to Entry||Lack of uniform registration criteria||N/A||N/A|
|Barriers to Activities||Excessive government control under International Cooperation Laws|
|Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy||Government is hostile to unpopular groups|
|Barriers to International Contact||Excessive government control under International Cooperation Laws|
|Barriers to Resources||Excessive government control under International Cooperation Laws|
|Population||29,248,943 (July 2011 est.)|
|Type of Government||Constitutional Republic|
|Life Expectancy at Birth||Male: 70.55 years
Female: 74.48 years (2011 est.)
|Literacy Rate||Male: 96.4%
Female: 89.4% (2007 Census)
|Religious Groups||Roman Catholic: 81.3%; Evangelical: 12.5%; other: 3.3%; unspecified or none: 2.9% (2007 census)|
|Ethnic Groups||Amerindian: 45%; Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and White): 37%; White: 15%; black, Japanese, Chinese, and other: 3%|
|GDP per capita||$9,200 (2010 est.)|
Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2011.
|Ranking Body||Rank||Ranking Scale
(best – worst possible)
|UN Human Development Index||63||1 – 169|
|World Bank Rule of Law Index||30.2||100 – 0|
|World Bank Voice & Accountability Index||50.2||100 – 0|
|Transparency International||78||1 – 178|
|Freedom House: Freedom in the World||Status: Free
Political Rights: 2
Civil Liberties: 3
|Free/Partly Free/Not Free
1 – 7
1 – 7
|Foreign Policy: Failed States Index
||92||177 - 1|
International and Regional Human Rights Agreements
|Key International Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Yes||1978|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)||Yes||1980|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)||Yes||1978|
|Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR)||No||--|
|International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)||Yes||1971|
|Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)||Yes||1982|
|Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women||Yes||2001|
|Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Yes||1990|
|International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)||Yes||2005|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)||Yes||2008|
|American Convention on Human Rights||Yes||1978|
|Additional Protocol to the Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights "Protocol of San Salvador"||Yes||1995|
* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty
Article 2 ¶13 of the Constitution of Peru recognizes the right of every person to join and establish foundations and various forms of legally recognized non-profit organizations, without prior authorization in accordance with the law. In addition, the Constitution stipulates that these organizations cannot be dissolved by administrative decision.
Peru’s Constitution also recognizes, among other internationally recognized rights:
- the right to equality before the law, no person should be discriminated against because of origin, race, sex, language, religion, opinion, economic status or any other (Article 2 ¶2);
- freedom of conscience and religion, individually or collectively, no one may be persecuted for their ideas or beliefs, or opinion (Article 2 ¶3);
- freedom of information, opinion, expression and dissemination of ideas through spoken or written word or image, by any media, without prior authorization or censorship or impediment (Article 2 ¶4);
- the right to privacy, and the inviolability of one’s communications and documents (Article 2 ¶¶ 7 and 10);
- freedom of contract (Article 62);
- property rights (Articles 70-73); and
- the right to participate, individually or collectively, in the political, economic, social and culture of the Nation (Article 2 ¶17).
National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector
As a unitary State, Peru has a national legal framework that follows civil law (not the common law legal tradition). Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are primarily regulated by the Civil Code.
Civil Code. Section I: Law of Persons, Section Two: Legal Persons. Articles 76 through 139.
There are additional national regulations that govern International Technical Cooperation organizations, which apply to non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Peru, as well as International Technical Cooperation Foreign Entities (ENIEX) established abroad.
The Law of Technical Cooperation (Legislative Decree Nº 719 and its Regulations) and the Law for the Creation of the Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation (Law Nº 27692 as modified by Law Nº 28925).
Other relevant laws include:
- Income Tax Law.
- General Sales Tax Law
- Refund of General Sales Tax and Municipal Promotion Tax
- Law on Facilitation of the Dispatch of Goods Donated from Overseas
- Regulation on the Inapplicability of VAT/GST and Excise Tax to Donations
- Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information (Ley de Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Público)
- Approved Norms for Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Aprueban la Norma para la Prevención del Lavado de Activos y Financiamiento del Terrorismo)
- Income Tax Exemption for Associations and Foundations (Exención del Impuesto para las Asociaciones y Fundaciones)
- Legislative Decree Effectively Combating Money Laundering and Other Related Crimes of Illegal Mining and Organized Crime (Decreto Legislativo de Lucha Eficaz Contra el Lavado de Activos y Otros Deletos Relacionados a la Mineria Ilegal y Crimen Organizado)
Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives
In July 2009, after violent clashes between civil society groups and the army occurred in the north of the country, Fujimori supporters in Congress, who on many issues ally with the current Garcia administration once more proposed legislation that, would again expand the powers of APCI. It remains unclear whether there is enough support to see the legislation passed in Congress, if and when it is presented to the full Congress for a vote. However, there is a widespread belief in government, that civil society must be more tightly supervised and controlled by the State.
The legal types of CSOs, or non-profit legal entities, regulated by the Civil Code in Peru are the association, the foundation, and the committee. The most common classification is the association, and the committee is the least used classification due to its specific and temporary duration.
According to the Civil Code, an association is legally defined as “an organization established by two people or legal entities or both, that through a common activity pursue a nonprofit objective,” and may define a public or social purpose. Thus, an association could be a beach club, or cultural group, or philanthropic entity.
A foundation, on the other hand, is defined in the Civil Code as a “non-profit organization established by the assignment of one or more legal or natural personalities to accomplish objectives that are of religious, cultural, welfare, or other social interest.” In addition, an initial contribution of money or property is a prerequisite to establishing a foundation. Since the purpose of a foundation must be social in nature, private interest groups seeking to obtain benefits for themselves are not allowed to form this legal entity. Foundations are established less often than associations because there are many drawbacks, including being subject to more state control and supervision.
A non-governmental organization or NGO is a not-for-profit organization receives a special designation as an NGO because it engages in “international technical cooperation” activities. However, there is no legal identification for NGOs, so they are considered de facto civil associations.
Public Benefit Status
As noted above, associations in Peru are free to pursue any lawful mutual or public benefit purpose. Foundations, on the other hand, must pursue religious, aid-based, or cultural objectives, or other objectives of social interest. The Civil Code does not define the term “social interest.”
There are very few benefits for CSOs:
Associations and Foundations do not have a blanket exemption from Income Tax payment. They must apply to the Peruvian Tax Agency (Superintendencia Nacional de Administración Tributaria-SUNAT) and register with the Register for Income Tax Exempt Entities. (Registro de Entidades Exoneradas del Impuesto a la Renta). In practice, this tax exemption is quite restrictive and difficult to obtain.
However, qualifying CSOs can get benefits from income tax in the following ways:
a.1 Immunity.- Foundations the following exclusive purposes are not subject to Income Tax: culture, advanced research, charity, social and medical assistance and social benefits for company employees (Article 18 Subsection “c” of the Income Tax Law).
a.2 Exoneration. - For associations and other types of foundations (not eligible for the above immunity) a temporary exoneration is established (which currently extends to December 31st, 2011), if they comply with the following requirements: (i) exclusive pursuit of the following purposes: charity; social assistance, education; cultural, science, art, literature, athletics, politics, union/trade-unions or housing; (ii) the qualifying activities are carried out within Peru; (iii) no distribution, directly or indirectly, among the associates or members; and (iv) the organization’s governing documents must state that, in the event of dissolution, assets must be directed to any of the purposes included in this article. Foreign CSOs-ENIEX are not eligible (Article 19, subsection b of the Income Tax Law).
For associations and foundations that do not qualify for either immunity or exoneration of Income Tax, are taxed at a rate of 30% of their net income, which is the rate for corporations.
Barriers to Entry
The Civil Code offers very little regulation associations. As a result, there is a tremendous amount of discretion given to jurisdictional Public Registries. In fact, criteria for registration vary between each Registrar. To address this problem mandatory precedents adopted by the Full Court of Registration are published in the Official Diary “El Peruano”. However, not every registration issue has been nationalized.
Barriers to Operational Activity
The most important legal barrier that CSOs have recently faced is the excessive control and execution of the resources administered by APCI. Under this legal framework, NGOs, or any other group subject to the supervision and control of APCI must, among other things, provide extensive reporting about planned activities, source of funding and other financial details.
Barriers to Speech / Advocacy
Although Peruvian law does not prohibit CSOs from engaging in activities linked to politics or lobbying, or other activities that might influence public policy, there has been a continuous effort by state and non-state actors to silence unpopular groups.
Former president Fujimori's supporters in Congress, as well as some top government officials, have aggressively sought to discredit CSOs that advocate for human rights accountability. 
 See Human Rights Watch, World Report: Peru.
Barriers to International Contact
There are no legal restrictions on international contact. However, see sections on barriers to resources below.
Barriers to Resources
As previously mentioned, the most debated issue in Peru between civil society and government is about the scope of supervision and control by the state (through APCI) of domestic and foreign organizations that finance and / or implement projects using international technical cooperation resources.
Before the issuance of a 2006 law modifying the law for the Creation of APCI, Law No. 28925, it was understood that registration with APCI was mandatory only for organizations that engaged in international technical cooperation that was channeled through state agencies, in exchange for access to certain tax benefits arising from the scheme. Law No. 28925 expanded APCI’s power to those organizations that manage international cooperation, without state involvement, but enjoy any privilege, benefit or tax exemption, or use in some form state resources, or where the original cooperating entity is from a country that is a party to a bilateral or multilateral agreement with the State of Peru. In addition, Law No. 28925 provides that registration with APCI "is mandatory to implement international technical cooperation, regardless of the legal nature of the cooperating source."
Law No. 28925 drew wide criticism domestically and internationally. Critics charged that the law violated basic fundamental rights: namely freedom of association, contracts, and privacy, equal to law, among others. As a result, two groups, one comprised of civil society representatives, and one comprised of legislators lodged two separate constitutional lawsuits in 2007. The combined lawsuits were settled by the Constitutional Court of Peru where it struck down several provisions of the law, but upheld the majority. The most important part of the ruling for civil society was the Court’s finding that registration with APCI is not obligatory in order for an organization to carry out international technical cooperation. However, the Court also explained that an organization may opt out of registration by not excepting any state benefits or using any state resources. In practice, opting out may not be that simple where nearly every organization utilizes state resources in some manner. The law fails to define this important term, and as a result, provides the government with infinite discretion to apply its control over countless organizations.
|UN Universal Periodic Review Reports||UPR Peru
Compilation of UN information
Summary of stakeholders' information
Report of the Working Group
Decision on the Outcome
Draft Report on the eighth session of the Human Rights Council
|Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs||Peru|
|USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes||USIG: Peru|
|U.S. State Department||2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Peru
2009 Advancing Freedom and Democracy Reports: Peru
|Failed States Index Reports||Foreign Policy: Failed States Index 2012|
|IMF Country Reports||Peru and the IMF|
|International Commission of Jurists||Not available|
|International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library||Peru|
While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change. If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Mine Protests Planned (February 2013)
Opponents of the stalled $5 billion Minas Conga copper and gold mine project in northern Peru plan to hold more protests in 2013, including a referendum in July. Violent clashes between police and protesters in 2012 led project lead operator Newmont Mining Corp (NEM) to put work leading to production on hold, while it builds water reservoirs. Protesters have said any project could hurt water supplies, something that Newmont disputes.
UN labour agency names five countries where ‘serious and urgent’ labour-rights cases need attention (November 2012)
A key rights committee of the United Nations labour agency identified five countries where it says worker-rights violations – some involving murder – represent the “most serious and urgent cases” among 32 countries examined at its meeting. Argentina, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Fiji and Peru were singled out by the Committee on Freedom of Association of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) after Committee members reviewed cases involving rights to organize, negotiate through collective bargaining and engage in social dialogue.
Violent suppression of protest in Peru (October 2012)
One person has been killed and dozens more have been injured in a protest in Lima. The protest began over an attempt by the local government council to relocate market traders.
Spanish NGO sends humanitarian aid to Peru (August 2012)
The Spanish NGO Madre Coraje (Mother Courage) sent 20,000 kilos of aid to Peru through the coordination center, Caritas Peru. Caritas Peru supports the actions and programs of hundreds of institutions and religious congregations working in poor and inaccessible regions Peru where the most vulnerable populations live.
Urgent action to protect human rights of protesters (July 2012)
The International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) transmitted a communication to the Government of Peru requesting urgent action to protect the human rights of people protesting the Conga gold mine in Peru after five people lost their lives during the week of July 3 in a wave of “disproportionate police repression”.
HRW: Cajamarca response requires restraint, respect for Rule of Law (July 2012)
Three civilians died from gunshot wounds on July 3, 2012 in the city of Celendín during a confrontation between protesters and police and army units outside the city hall. More than 30 other civilians were injured, several of them reportedly with bullet wounds, according to local hospital officials. The government declared a state of emergency in three of Cajamarca department’s provinces. Those who died on July 3 – Faustino Silva Sánchez, José Eleuterio García Rojas, and César Medina Aguilar, a 17-year-old high school student – appear to have been shot after army units moved in to help the police. Another civilian, José Antonio Sánchez, who was gravely injured by a bullet wound in the throat, died in a hospital on July 5. There have been strikes and protests in the region against a large open-cast gold mine for several months.
Peru NGO workers detained near Newmont mine (March 2012)
Seven employees from a not-for-profit organization created by Newmont Mining's Peruvian subsidiary have been detained by townspeople near the company's stalled $4.8 billion Conga mine, the group said on Friday. A leader of the townspeople opposing the mine in northern Cajamarca, the most expensive ever attempted in Peru, said the workers were being investigated for trying to generate support for the giant gold and copper project but that all seven would be released soon.
Civil society helps Peru achieve EITI compliance (February 2012)
Peru has become the first Latin American country to achieve compliant status in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). A longtime EITI candidate, Peru received the approval of the EITI Board on 15 February, along with Mauritania. RWI local partner Cooperacción is the civil society representative on Peru's EITI multi-stakeholder committee and has worked hard towards EITI validation. Julia Cuadros, director of Cooperacción, says improved information about oil and mining company payments to the Peruvian government helped Peru achieve compliance.
About 2.000 workers marched in Lima against Emergency Decrees (February 2011)
Peru: Amend Decrees for Prosecuting Military and Police Abuses (September 2010)
Police Repress Protest (August 2010)
Fujimori 25-year sentence upheld by Peru Supreme Court (January 2010)
Peru army and navy continue with war memorial plans (December 2009)
Peru: Investigate threats against rights defender (September 2009)
The foregoing information was collected by ICNL's NGO Law Monitor partner in Peru.