UN Report Confirms UN-Backed Coercive Population Control in Peru

By Austin Ruse | December 14, 2001

     (NEW YORK – C-FAM) Despite repeated UN denials, a recently uncovered report commissioned by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) shows that UNFPA-sponsored family planning programs in Peru have been coercive. The existence of the report, obtained by the US-based "National Catholic Register," has been denied by Stirling Scruggs, the UNFPA's director of information, and by Marisela Padron Quesa, director of UNFPA's Latin American and Caribbean division. However, Mirtha Carrera-Halim, UNFPA's Peruvian representative, confirmed the existence of the report and showed extensive knowledge of the report's findings.

     Accusations of coercive practices in Peru surfaced shortly after then-President Fujimori instituted family planning programs in 1995. After an extensive 1998 in-country investigation, Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, charged that UNFPA-funded programs deliberately targeted poor and native women for sterilizations, and performed these sterilizations without informed consent. Also in 1998, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) told a Congressional subcommittee that doctors were forced to meet government-imposed quotas for sterilizations. UNFPA denied the charges.

     UNFPA commissioned a 1999 investigation by the Peruvian Ministry of Health to examine the charges. The investigators found that violations of women's rights were occurring throughout Peru, and that "there are notorious deficiencies among RH/FP [reproductive health/family planning] providers regarding the respect of personal and reproductive rights." Specifically, the investigators discovered that providers often forced contraceptive choices upon women, citing evidence of "cases in which the RH/FP providers believed there were situations in which the decision could be 'external' to the person." Making such 'external' decisions for women would violate the terms of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which seeks to eliminate all coercive family planning practices.

     The report also quoted one family planning provider who said that women complaining of painful complications from sterilizations exhibited "the wrong way of thinking about family planning." Dr. Fernando Llanos, president of the Peruvian Institute of Health, stated that this "is a perfect example of what has been happening in the health field: a complete disregard for the human person and an obsession for applying birth control at any cost."

     Instead of using these findings to demand changes from the Peruvian government, or to cut its involvement with the coercive programs, it appears that UNFPA has attempted to cover-up the findings. Dr. Raúl Cantella, president of the Peruvian Foundation for the Prevention of AIDS, Malaria and Tropical Diseases said, "I would not be surprised if UNFPA, in fact, had demanded the report not to become public. When even USAID was distancing itself from Fujimori's obviously brutal population control campaign, UNFPA was sticking close, providing funds and even praising Fujimori for his resolve."

     The $15.3 billion US foreign aid bill is now stalled because of a sharp disagreement over US funding for UNFPA. The House seeks $25 million, while the Senate wants $37.5 million.