Crime & Justice

Victims of Peru’s forced sterilizations hope for justice at Inter-American Court

Lima, Aug 24 (EFE).- The daughters of Celia Ramos, who died in 1997 days after being forcibly sterilized, celebrated Thursday that their mother’s case will be heard by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR).

Along with human rights organizations and activists, the daughters are hopeful the case will help bring justice to the thousands of victims of forced sterilizations that allegedly took place in Peru during the government of former President Alberto Fujimori.

“I’m happy because, after so many years, there is finally international recognition of the responsibility of the Peruvian state to acknowledge the truth of the facts, not only in my mother’s case, but in everything that happened around this program,” said Marisiela Monzon Ramos, the alleged victim’s daughter.

On Aug. 18, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced that it would send Celia Ramos’ case against the State of Peru to court for trial.

At a press conference on Thursday at the headquarters of the National Coordinator for Human Rights in Lima, the family of Celia Ramos, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Center for Justice and International Law, and the feminist organization Demus expressed their happiness that the case will be heard after 26 years of “searching for the truth.”

Ramos died in 1997 from complications following a tubal ligation 19 days earlier.

During Fujimori’s second term, between 1995 and 2000, the Peruvian government implemented a National Family Planning and Sexual and Reproductive Health Program that carried out forced sterilizations on more than 200,000 people, most of whom were indigenous Quechua-speaking, poor and rural.

“I am a witness, even at a young age, to the pressure put on my mother to agree to the procedure. The misinformation was such that tubal ligation was compared to having a tooth pulled. I remember it very clearly,” Monzon said, adding that her mother agreed to the procedure at the urging and visits of health workers, but did not want it.

Milton Campos, a lawyer representing the feminist organization Demus, pointed out that reports by the authorities concluded that on the same day of Ramos’ surgery, which took place “against her will,” 15 other women were operated on in a health center that was not prepared for this type of procedure.

Lucia Hernandez, legal advisor to the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the Court’s ruling should identify those responsible for the policies that “annulled the reproductive autonomy of poor women through coercion and threats,” and ensure that such events do not happen again in the future.

“The fact that the case has reached the court is a unique opportunity for the Ramos daughters to be heard and to move forward in obtaining reparative justice. The ruling should also develop standards that can be implemented in Peru for other cases of this historical debt of the state,” said another lawyer for Demus, Maria Ysabel Cedano, noting that this is a “mega-case” that includes more than 3,000 complainants. EFE


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