New decree empowers Peru’s police to detain citizens not carrying identification

By October 11, 2023

Lima, Peru — Last week, Peru’s government greenlighted Legislative Decree No. 957, which grants the police the authority to detain individuals who lack their national identification card.

The measure, approved on October 5, is reportedly aimed at strengthening public security, although it has raised concerns about potential violations of citizens’ rights.

The decree, which amends Article 205 of the Criminal Procedure Code, establishes that the police can arrest any citizen based solely on suspicion of being involved in a crime, without the need for a prior judicial or prosecutor’s order.

In the case of citizens found not carrying their identification, detentions could last up to four hours while their identity is verified and it is confirmed that they have no outstanding arrest warrants. 

For foreigners, this detention could be extended to 12 hours due to difficulties in accessing their identification information.

Criminal lawyer Carlos Caro has warned that the modified legislation provides “a significant space for abuse and discrimination” by the police, as the detention would be solely based on the discretion of an officer.

It is important to note that this legislative modification comes after Congress granted the Executive Branch authorization to legislate on matters related to public safety, disaster risk management, social infrastructure, and other issues, with a validity period of 90 days.