The Fujimori Trial Gives Hope To Survivors Of Forced Sterilizations In Peru

The Fujimori trial gives hope to survivors of forced sterilizations in Peru

Survivors of forced sterilizations in Peru have had to wait for a quarter of a century to see a light at the end of the tunnel. On December 11, Judge Rafael Martínez opened a criminal proceeding against former President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) for his alleged responsibility in these practices carried out on 1,317 women, most of them peasant women without resources, during his mandate.

Justice has also decided to investigate the former Health Ministers Eduardo Yong, Marino Costa and Alejandro Aguinaga – current legislator – in this case, as “alleged perpetrators of the crime against life, body and health, serious injuries, followed by death , in a context of serious violation of human rights “.

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Despite the delay, the survivors believe that a great step has been taken in this long process. His courage in reporting and the effort of all these years is beginning to pay off.

“A new door has been opened because we have gone from the Public Ministry to the judiciary and that represents a light of hope for the thousands of victims, not only for the 1,317 complainants of this criminal process that is going to be judicially investigated, but for all of them, since they are the same crimes, “María Ysabel Cedano, a lawyer for the Peruvian feminist organization Estudio para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (Demus), tells elDiario.es.

The Public Ministry, Cedano adds, “has two more files with at least 2,000 other complainants and has the possibility of requesting the judiciary to join these victims.”

But before the criminal process begins, there is still another step. Chile’s Supreme Court of Justice has to accept the expansion of the extradition charges that it approved in 2005, after Fujimori was detained in a luxurious hotel in Santiago, according to Efe.

The former president has been imprisoned in Peru since 2009, serving a 25-year sentence for violation of human rights during his government.

This latest decision by Judge Rafael Martínez does not mean that a trial will be held against Fujimori and his former ministers in the short term. The road is still long.

“We are not in a trial, we are not even close. The judicial investigation is an opportunity to act on all the existing evidence and to search for new ones,” the Peruvian lawyer clarifies. He assures that they will fight “for justice to be done with the highest possible penalties”, because if the investigation only concludes that serious human rights violations have been committed, he maintains, “the penalties can be negligible, and in reality it is a crime against humanity “.

Cedano considers that those involved should be brought to trial for homicide, negligence, coercion and kidnapping, since “not only were the bodies of the victims damaged and injured, but their will was violated by not informing them adequately and not allowing them to decide freely “.

And that trial could take a long time, taking into account problems as deeply rooted in Peru as they are, says Cedano, “corruption in the justice system and the lack of independence at the magistrate level.”

“It would take less time if the president of the Judiciary, Elvira Barrios, and the nation’s prosecutor, Zoraida Ávalos, created a prosecutor’s office ad hoc to judicially investigate this case, “he says.

In addition, this investigation has been tried to archive on several occasions and the judicial process has dragged on for years.

It is estimated that between 1996 and 2000, under Fujimori’s second term, more than 300,000 women and nearly 22,000 men were sterilized against their will in Peru.

These practices were carried out within the framework of the Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program with the aim of stopping the birth rate of people with limited resources. Most were young people from indigenous Quechua communities.

Under deception and threats from health personnel, most of the victims were taken to unsanitary places where they underwent surgery without general anesthesia. After having tubal ligation and irreversible vasectomies, they never had postoperative care or medical follow-up. The injuries, both physical and psychological, still remain.

“It has been 25 years of shame for the Peruvian Justice, but also for the five governments that turned their backs on democracy to thousands of women despite their claims,” ​​María Esther Mogollón, advisor and spokesperson for the Association of Peruvian Women Affected by Forced Sterilizations (AMPAEF).

Regardless of political color, none of the five presidents who have ruled Peru in the last three decades — Alejandro Toledo, Alan García, Ollanta Humala, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and Martín Vizcarra — met the needs of the thousands of victims who were brutally sterilized.

Furthermore, for indigenous women, not being able to have children is a social stigma, and many suffered rejection from their community. Revictimization, they explain, is constant.

“One thing was the operation and another what came later. It has been 25 years of suffering, of limitations regarding their own community work, since the Andean culture develops in community settings. Their own communities have rejected them, many have not. They understood the seriousness of what they did to them and they believe that they have not wanted to have children so as not to collaborate with the community, “laments the AMPAEF spokeswoman.

Survivors also often suffer from racism and discrimination, especially from Lima society and currently more than 1,000 victims do not have defense lawyers. “We are concerned because they do not have defense or sufficient resources, and sometimes it is very difficult to get information to them,” says Mogollón.

The advisor is somewhat more hopeful with the Government of Pedro Castillo, the former rural teacher who assumed the presidency of Peru last July. At least, indicates Mogollón, during his electoral campaign he expressed solidarity with the struggle of the survivors of forced sterilizations. and even explained that within his own family they had suffered these terrible practices.

But the women’s association AMPAEF has sent several letters requesting a meeting to both the president, the Minister of Health, Hernando Cevallos, and the Minister of Justice, Aníbal Torres, and they have still not received a response. The activists have been received by the Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations, Anahí Durand.

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