Against claims that hundreds of thousands of mostly poor and indigenous women were sterilized without their consent, the Peruvian government has decided to clear former president Alberto Fujimori of related charges. The Fujimori government always claimed that the operations performed were voluntary on behalf of its participants. In 2002, an independent congressional commission reported that within Fujimori’s 10-year term between 1990-2000, the government had sterilized more than 346,000 women and close to 25,000 men in an effort to control poverty by reducing the population rate.
The campaign had the support of several governments, including the United States and Japan, as well as the endorsements of anti-abortion and feminist organizations. According to some of the alleged victims, however, they claim that they were forced to undergo the procedures (via blackmail) and were not told that they could refuse what was being asked of them. Public prosecutors maintained that no crimes had actually been committed based upon a lack of evidence to support the claim that the alleged victims were held without their consent. The investigation into the campaign was opened once again in 2011 after it had been shut down for similar reasons in 2009.
This sentencing by the Peruvian government has little impact for Fujimori, now 75 years old. He is currently serving four concurrent sentences for corruption and human rights abuses, the longest one a 25-year term. Mr. Fujimori, whose health has been deteriorating since his sentencing, was recently denied a pardon last year by current Peruvian president Ollanta Humala. “Having analyzed the interviews of doctors, having spoken to the minister of justice,” the former president states, “I have decided to accept the unanimous recommendation given by the Presidential Pardons Commission, and they have not recommended a pardon. Fujimori is the best-kept prisoner in all of Peru.”
Only being able to be pardoned for health reasons under Peruvian law, the former president is serving his sentence for ordering the killings of 25 people by a death squad, including one 8-year old victim. He is also charged with having a hand in the kidnapping of a journalist and businessman during Peru’s internal conflict. Following the news that Fujimori will not be absolved of his crimes, several human rights organizations are welcoming the decision, one of them the advocate group CNDDHH, which praises, “This is a great example that our country is taking in advancing transitional justice worldwide.”