Peru: Poet Melissa Patiño released pending trial

English PEN welcomes the release pending trial of the 20-year-old poet and university student Melissa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza on 8 May. However, Patiño still faces up to 20 years in prison for her alleged involvement with a leftwing political organisation which the Peruvian government claims is linked to terrorist groups. English PEN urges the authorities either to substantiate the charges against Patiño and ensure that she receives a fair trial, or to drop the case.

Patiño was released from the Santa Monica maximum security prison in Chorrillos, Lima, in the evening of 8 May 2008, after almost two and a half months’ incarceration. Patiño was allowed to return home on payment of 1,000 soles (approx. £186) bail. She remains on trial on terrorism charges which carry a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years.

The poet, who is a member of ‘Círculo del sur’ (Southern Circle) poetry group in Lima and runs a poetry programme on radio, was detained on 29 February 2008 whilst returning from a conference in Ecuador organized by the leftwing political organization Bolivarian Continental Coordinator (Coordinadora Continental Boliviariana – CCB).

She was subsequently charged with being an accomplice to terrorism on the basis of her attendance at the congress of CCB, which the Peruvian authorities claim is linked to terrorist groups in Peru and abroad. The poet denies being involved in any political groups, and has said that her main motivation for attending was the opportunity to travel to Ecuador.

Two and a half months on, the authorities have still not produced any concrete evidence to back up the terrorism charges. The accusations have been made on the basis of Patiño’s alleged membership of the Peruvian chapter of the CCB, her attendance of the CCB congress in Ecuador and her participation in a march at the end of the conference, during which she is said to have shouted anti-imperialist and pro-socialism slogans. None of these activities can be said to amount to terrorist activities.

Peru’s anti-terrorism prosecutor, Julio Galindo, reportedly intends to appeal against the decision to release Patiño.

Additional Information

The case has attracted widespread media attention and support in Peru and internationally. A petition requesting Patiño’s release was signed by more than 1,600 writers, artists and other individuals around the world and presented to President Alan García.

English PEN’s original appeal, which contains further information on this case is available here.

Please send appeals

-Welcoming the release pending trial of the poet Melisssa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza;

-Calling on the Peruvian authorities either to provide evidence to back up the charges of terrorism against Patiño, and to ensure she receives a free and fair trial;

-Alternatively, to drop all charges against her.



Dr. Alan García Pérez

Presidente de la República del Perú

Jr. de la Unión S/N 1ra. Cuadra, Cercado de Lima, Lima, Peru

Fax: 51 1 311 3940

Email: messages can be sent to the President via the following link:

Salutation: Su Excelencia/ Your Excellency

Minister of Justice

Dra. Rosario Fernández Figueroa

Ministra de Justicia

Ministerio de Justicia, Scipión LLona N° 350, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Fax: 51 1 422 3577


Salutation: Señora Ministra/Dear Minister

Human Rights Ombudsman

Dra. Beatriz Merino


Defensoría del Pueblo

Jirón Ucayali 388, Lima-Perú

Fax: 51 1 426 7889


It may be more effective, however, to send the above appeals via the Peruvian representative in London:

Embassy of Peru

Ambassador Mr Ricardo Luna
52 Sloane Street
Salutation: Su Excelencia/ Your Excellency

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with English PEN if sending appeals after 12 June 2008.***

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