Peru re-opens criminal investigation into government-run mass sterilisation of thousands of men and women

Nearly 350,000 men and 25,000 women were sterilised in the 1990s 

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The Independent US

An investigation has been re-opened into allegations that thousands of men and women were forcibly sterilised under a government programme in Peru.

Hundreds of thousands of mostly indigenous men and women were sterilised during a programme led by the government of former president Alberto Fujimori during the 1990s, which aimed to reduce the rising birth rate.

Over 2,000 women say they were sterilised without knowing or giving consent to the operation, according to Reuters. At least 18 women allegedly died from the surgery.

An investigation into the birth control campaign cleared Fujimori and members of his government of committing any crimes against community and was closed in 2014. Human rights groups responded by filing a complaint. 

State prosecutor Luis Antonio Landa Burgos said the enquiry would now be extended to include new oral statements from other alleged victims of forced sterilisations in other areas of Peru.

The 56-page notice did not name Fujimori and his former officials as charged with any crimes, but rights groups expect their actions will be closely examined again during the investigation.

An independent commission established that 346,219 women and 24,535 men were sterilised in the last seven years of Fujimori’s presidential mandate in 2002, according to the BBC.

Fujimori is currently serving a prison sentence for corruption and human rights abuses, but has never been tried over the allegations. He maintains that the sterilisations were performed voluntarily with full consent of men and women.

Maria Cedano, head of the Peruvian feminist organisation DEMUS, said: "We've waited long enough for the government to investigate these 2,073 cases and hold ex-President Fujimori and his administration accountable for these reproductive rights abuses.”

Prosecutors have three months to conduct their investigations.