Sterilisation victims recognised in law

9 November 2015

On 6 November, El Peruano, the official Gazette, published a Supreme Decree declaring ‘of national interest’ the plight of the victims of the forced sterilisation programme implemented during Alberto Fujimori’s second term between 1995 and 2000. Over that period, some 300,000 women and 20,000 men were sterilised, some without consent, others under duress, and many without a proper understanding of what the procedure meant for them in the longer term.

Over the past 20 years, victims have campaigned hard to achieve justice and recognition.

The decree mandates the creation of an official central register of victims so that they can be given free legal advice, psychological help and medical attention. The aim is to facilitate nationwide coverage to enable victims to obtain health and legal support in redressing the injustices committed all those years ago.

The decree has been one of the first actions of the new minister of justice and human rights (see PSG article) working alongside the minister for women and vulnerable populations and the minister of health. The text can be found here:

The issue of forced sterilisations has come to the fore after years of scant progress. In 2011, Ollanta Humala promised to work to support the victims, but only now are there signs of progress.

The matter is also before the courts. Three former health ministers are being investigated for the role they played on this under Alberto Fujimori. The possibility of Fujimori himself having to face justice on this issue remains.

In 2011, then presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori had a difficult time in responding to questions on this when, as First Lady, the policy was being implemented. Some analysts have even claimed that this was one of the main reasons she finally (but narrowly) lost the election to Humala.

She has already run into trouble over this issue in the current campaign, having accused doctors of responsibility for this abuse during a presentation she made at Harvard University last month. The medical establishment in Lima rejects this version of events, arguing that sterilisation was a policy imposed from above by the executive.

The issue promises to be a lively one over the next six months, and campaigners hope that the election campaign will help to ensure that justice is finally done. At the very least, Keiko Fujimori will need to convince voters that she is no longer being advised by those who designed these policies in 2011.

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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