Written by Eve W

According to the Instituto Nacional Penitenciario over 1500 international prisoners are being held in prisons across Peru. It has been found that around 90% of those detained, are being held for crimes related to drug trafficking.

The majority of the criminals are held in notorious jails outside of the capital, Lima men often in Ancón and Callao, and the women in Chorrillos. Shockingly, it has been reported that only 17,000 of the 44,000 of those imprisoned in Peru have had a sentencing in court, with the remainder in pre-trial limbo detained in police stations.

It is not hard to see why Peru, the mysterious and illusive South American country, draws almost 70,000 British travelers each year. It is a popular point of entry for those backpacking the continent, as well as a destination of a lifetime for those that travel to see the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu shrouded in the wonders of civilizations past.

Peru is bountiful in history, offers insights into exuberant culture and surprises you constantly with laid-back surfer seaside towns, dense jungle hideouts in the Amazon and cosmopolitan colonial cities. Its charm often tricks travelers into a false sense of security.

A number of British Nationals, who were enjoying the abundance of Peru’s travel gems, are now currently imprisoned in Peruvian jails…


So, what can get you in trouble?


Punishments & Prisons

The minimum sentence for drug smuggling is six years. Whereas sentences for possession can vary, and can often rely on the discretion and interpretation of your crime by the local police who deal with the case. The judicial system is susceptible to high levels of corruption, therefore becoming involved with the law can have concerning outcomes.

Prisons, like most in South America have a poor reputation for upholding universal standards of human rights. They are often overcrowded, filthy and dominated by internal gangs. Therefore, both prisoners and guards often exploit foreigners with bribes.

If you got into trouble, how could the British government help?

It is important to know that whilst the British government will support you they can only help so much, they will not be able to support you financially in the legal process or interfere with the judicial process of another country.

They can:

  • Raise concerns if you are being mistreated in prisons
  • Issue Emergency Travel Documents, to allow you to return to the UK.
  • Provide accurate local information; lawyers, translators etc.
  • Provide advice if you are ill or a victim of a crime.

They can’t:

  • Issue you with a new passport
  • Pay any bills, legal or medical.
  • Investigate crimes, or get you out of prison.

Therefore, it is best to take precaution when travelling in Peru. It can be easy to get carried away with the free spirited adventurous traveler vibe that welcomes you in Peru. However, it is not worth taking risks, as the consequences can be severe…

Being offered a lifeline can change everything. 

Prisoners Abroad translates human rights law into practical life-saving actions by providing prisoners access to vitamins and essential food, emergency medical care, freepost envelopes to keep in touch with home and books and magazines to help sustain mental health.