Women in the Peruvian province of Anta who were victims of a pattern of forced sterilization between 1996 and 2000 have submitted a new lawsuit in their continuing fight for justice. The lawsuit will be brought by the victims in Anta specifically, because in that province sterilization was implemented strategically, with quotas set for the number of sterilized women, and all of those targeted were members of the same indigenous ethnic group.
The original investigation of the forced sterilization program was shelved by the public prosecutor in May of 2009, claiming that the statute of limitations had passed. However, while the statute of limitations had passed on possible charges of crimes against the victims' life, body and health, and manslaughter, the plaintiffs had actually brought forth accusations of genocide and torture, which are considered crimes against humanity and therefore have no time limit for prosecution.
In response to the impunity demonstrated by the dismissal of the case, the Women's Association of Forced Sterilisation Victims of Anta is employing a new strategy by presenting a lawsuit against the individuals responsible for crafting family planning policy during the last four years of the Fujimori regime. The Association is comprised of approximately 100 women whose testimonies reveal how lies and force were used to sterilize women against their will under the banner of an anti-poverty program.
The government of Peru has admitted 300,000 forced sterilizations were performed under the family planning program, and the ombudsman's office has gathered testimony from 2,074 women who suffered sterilization without their consent between 1996 and 2000. As part of a 2003 settlement agreement in a case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Peruvian state acknowledged its responsibility in the abuses that were committed and resolved to investigate and prosecute implicated officials.
However, the promised investigation and prosecutions were not carried out. One of the officials accused of implementing the forced sterilizations was instead elected to congress and is currently serving as vice president of the legislature.
The decision to individually sue for crimes against humanity, torture, genocide, and war crimes, which are international criminal offenses, means that if Peru continues to harbor those responsible, other countries could step in to prosecute the accused.
Compiled from: Peru: Women Sterilised Against Their Will Seek Justice, Inter Press Service, (19 October 2010).