Many thousands of indigenous Peruvian women were forcibly sterilized in the late 1990s and the people in charge of the program will not face charges according to a recent ruling.
Women’s rights advocates in Peru are condemning the ruling that drops charges against the officials implicated in the forced sterilization of thousands of indigenous women as part of the National Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program of 1996-2000.
On January 22, the Ministry of Justice issued a resolution stating that the government “would not lodge criminal complaints” against former President Alberto Fujimori, the former Ministers of Health Salud Costa, Alejandro Aguinaga, and Eduardo Yong as well as the consultants and directors of the program. The resolution asserted that there was no proof that the named officials knew about the abuses or intended for the program to be implemented in that illegal manner.
The initial case brought against former President Fujimori—who was convicted of murder, kidnapping and crimes against humanity in 2009 –included charges that he knew of the forced sterilization programs during his administration that lead to at least 18 deaths and involved deception and threats against hundreds of thousands of mainly indigenous women.
While the case against Fujimori was mostly resolved, the cases involving the forced sterilization programs were ongoing until the recent resolution.
For Demus, a women’s rights defense organization in Peru, the resolution “extends a cloak of impunity over one of the gravest violations of human rights committed by this country.”
“This resolution again violates the right to the truth and access to justice and reparations for the victims of forced sterilization in our country,” according to the Demus press release. Demus was one of the human rights organizations that had originally filed charges against the officials on behalf of Mamerita Mestanza, one of the women who died as a result of forced sterilization.
The women’s rights organization asserted that “the forced sterilizations implicate crimes contemplated in the Peruvian penal legislation and constitutes grave human rights violations…and merits investigation and sanctions.”