Former President of Peru Alan Garcia granted 400 presidential pardons for convicted drug traffickers during his second term in office in a controversial policy that has provoked political debate over Garcia’s security policies.
According to the commission, the Garcia administration pardoned 5,500 individuals between 2006 and 2011, including 400 people incarcerated on drug charges.
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Members of the Garcia administration have been quick to defend the pardons. Garcia himself denied any wrongdoing. The former president said no gang members or high level traffickers were among those pardoned and claimed those released were only low-level drug mules, suggesting a humanitarian approach to those who often suffer harsh penalties for getting caught up on the bottom rung of the drug trade.
The former president of Garcia’s council of ministers, Javier Velasquez, claimed the pardons were part of a policy designed to relieve overcrowding in Peru’s prisons and accused the commission of politicizing the issue.
However, the commission’s president Sergio Tejada dismissed the claims, saying that among those pardoned were entire trafficking gangs and cocaine producers, which, if true, raises serious issues over the motives for such pardons.
Meanwhile, one of Garcia’s former justice ministers, Aurelio Pastor, was quick to paint the situation as normal, tweeting that the current president Ollanta Humala has pardoned 100 inmates convicted of drug trafficking in his term so far.
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