Peruvian Air Force Utilizes International Humanitarian Law to Fight Drug Trafficking

Peruvian Air Force Utilizes International Humanitarian Law to Fight Drug Trafficking

By Dialogo
December 23, 2015

International respect for human rights should be carried out at every level, given the conviction that emanates from respect toward the human person, especially if this person is a countryman of yours. Respect his rights by educating. Respect by showing a Christian model of solidarity. Respect and enforce respect for civil rights and finally, my advice is not to just obey the international laws and stipulations, it is essentially to obey by establishing public policies that, with adequate and continued exposure, willl guide the person to change his status. A valuable tool to use is to train the members of the FAP (Peruvian Air Force) to develop and carry out educational programs together with the Defense sector. It shouldn’t be just repressive. GRAND SCALE AND SUSTAINED EDUCATION with assessment of the results to instensify and bring them up to date. Congratulations to the members of the Armed Forces and in this case to the members of the FAP for their training. GB Education is a child’s right

Peru’s Air Force (FAP) intends to use what it learned during a training program on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to bolster its fight against narco-trafficking groups that are cultivating illegal coca crops in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers valley (VRAEM).

“It is important that our FAP personnel in different ranks and specialties have a background in international humanitarian law while operating in the VRAEM region, which is a conflict zone,” Colonel Fernando Kahn, FAP Prosecutor, told Diálogo

The VRAEM is Peru’s largest coca-growing region, used mainly by the Shining Path terrorist group. The crop is then turned into cocaine and transported to Mexico, the United States, and other destinations, including Africa and Europe.

Safeguarding human rights

Peru’s Military protects human rights while conducting operations against illegal organizations in the VRAEM and elsewhere. “The Peruvian Armed Forces, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, and, in particular, the Air Force, understand that international humanitarian law only applies in zones where there is non-international armed conflict,” Col. Kahn said.

Humanitarian law establishes international norms that limit the effects of armed conflict on civilians and protects populations that are particularly vulnerable, according to the International Red Cross Committee. “On each patrol and during each operation, Military personnel must know exactly when to employ the use of force, making sure that it is used only as a last resort.”

To conduct their missions in accordance with human rights standards, members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force who carry out operations in the VRAEM constantly participate in IHL training provided by the National Commission for the Study and Application of International Humanitarian Law (CONADIH, for its Spanish acronym). For example, between April and June, members of the FAP attended the 10th Miguel Grau Course on International Humanitarian Law, Introduction to Operational Legal Counsel.

Peruvian Military members currently conducting operations in the VRAEM attended the two-part training along with National Police officers, judges, prosecutors, and representatives from the Supreme Military Police Court and the Constitutional Court of Peru. The first phase involved virtual courses held from April 20–June 15th in which the 90 participating students learned the basic concepts of IHL. The 55 students with the highest grades advanced to the training’s in-class portion, which took place between June 22–June 26th.

The in-class phase consisted of presentations from national and international experts on the concepts of humanitarian law. Two of the presenters included General Juan Carlos Gómez Ramírez from the Colombian Air Force’s Headquarters on Human Rights Law and FAP Colonel Luis Small Ruíz, whose specialty is Special Operations and Defense.

Col. Small Ruiz highlighted some of the Military's achievements in the VRAEM in recent years: between January and May, for example, Peruvian forces destroyed 119 clandestine airplane runways used by drug traffickers, and in recent years, the Armed Forces have captured or killed several high-ranking Shining Path operatives in the region. The success has led to former members of the terrorist group becoming so disillusioned with the Shining Path that they have provided the Military with key information to conduct precise operations.

FAP training

In addition to the training conducted by the CONADIH, the Air Force has held several seminars to instruct its air crews, intelligence officers, and Special Forces on the scope of IHL since 2012. The fourth – and most recent – seminar was held in September 2014, and included instructors from the United States and Colombia.

“Through these trainings, the FAP has developed a bit of doctrine like its use of the term ‘employment and use of force within,’ which is why the FAP has operational legal advisors on hand in the VRAEM,” Col. Kahn explained. “We have them at the aerial level and with the Chief of Staff, and they assess situations and evaluate what decisions should be made if they are related to DIH.”

Providing such training is a cooperative effort. “The United States Southern Command and personnel and allies from the Colombian Air Force have always supported us in the development and strengthening of this entire, brand new discipline with operational law."

In cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and a commission from the Ministry of Justice, the FAP has been preparing an operational law handbook specifically for the VRAEM that will be released in late December or early January.

“Institutional decision-making and the promises of ministries that are committed to defending and respecting IHL and human rights have helped us move forward in the application of IHL in the VRAEM. Military personnel from all ranks deployed in the VRAEM throughout the years are trained both by the FAP and the International Red Cross on topics dealing with IHL and other international laws concerning human rights.”

Educating service members about IHL and human rights is an ongoing process that requires "support, collaboration, and the constant education of those involved in VRAEM operations... We must educate ourselves on IHL, and knowledge of international humanitarian law is quintessential.”