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New delay in forced sterilizations case in Peru, under way for 20 years

PERU STERILIZATIONS (ADDS VIDEO) | 09 de diciembre de 2019

Lima, Dec 9 (efe-epa).- The case involving alleged forced sterilizations performed in Peru during the 1990-2000 term of former President Alberto Fujimori on Monday suffered a new delay in the legal proceedings that have been under way for more than 20 years without the start of any trial.

The court hearing in which prosecutors on Monday were to have presented their accusations against Fujimori and his former health ministers for crimes against humanity was postponed until March 20, 2020, a move that outraged the victims, the vast majority of them women, and the organizations that are conducting their defense.

After the postponement was announced, both victims and activists gathered in Lima in front of the Superior Court for Organized Crime and Official Corruption to demand justice and immediate reparations for the victims.

The head of the feminist Demus organization, Maria Ysabel Cedano, told EFE that the court had scheduled the hearing last October but now it has postponed it until March arguing that the case file had been sent to another prosecutor's office and that office had not had time to review all the documents.

"The victims of forced sterilizations are (now) going to wait even longer... That is revictimizing them," said Cedano, whose organization is defending some of the victims.

The activist, who is also a member of the "We're 2074 and many more" platform, recalled that the case has been under preliminary investigation for 16 years by the Attorney General's Office without any indictments being filed, stating "This can't keep going on."

Cedano said that this new postponement is "very suspicious" because Marino Costa Bauer, one of Fujimori's ex-ministers included in the investigation, has filed with the Constitutional Court a motion to annul his indictment.

Meanwhile, Maria Elena Carbajal, the president of the Association of Victims of Forced Sterilizations (AVEF) of Lima and Callao, said that "no minister wants to be responsible" for the plaintiffs' demands.

"What we want is an immediate solution. We're more and more physically and emotionally broken down, and some of us have even died," Carbajal said.

"Fujimori has to be held responsible just like his ex-ministers Alejandro Aguinaga, Eduardo Yong and Marino Costa Bauer," she added.

Another plaintiff, Victoria Vigo, from the northern Piura region, told EFE that her case has been pending for 23 years.

"It's not fair for them to always be taking our justice from us. We're already tired of being in this fight for so many years and still without any result," she said.

Of the 1,316 female plaintiffs, 366 are listed on the National Register of Victims of Forced Sterilizations but not all know of or have the public defense that the Justice Ministry must provide for them, Demus said.

Although the Ombudsman's Office determined that 272,028 tubal ligations were performed along with 22,004 vasectomies between 1996 and 2001, almost all of those people were poor Quechua-speaking citizens from rural areas. It is not known how many such operations were performed as a result of deception or coercion.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) determined that the number of women affected by such procedures is extremely high and that at least one woman died as a result of those practices.

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