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In Front of the UN, Peru Recognizes Need to Guarantee Certain Reproductive Rights

In the last months of 2012, two human rights bodies issued their findings on Peru, including several issues that have an impact on the country's reproductive rights landscape. In both instances, the Center for Reproductive Rights had provided input that was accepted and incorporated into the findings.

United Nations Human Rights Council: Universal Periodic Review

The Human Rights Council issued its report after conducting its Universal Periodic Review. Peru accepted several recommendations relevant to reproductive rights, a critical indication that the government intends to take steps toward the improvement of reproductive health care across the country. Most importantly, the government accepted a recommendation to adopt and implement a protocol of attention to "guarantee equal access to therapeutic abortion" for all women.  This would fulfill some of the recommendations made by two different human rights bodies in the Center's landmark cases: KL v. Peru and LC v. Peru. After years of inaction, Peru's expected compliance with those recommendations is a crucial step forward for women's health.

The government also accepted a recommendation offered by the Center in its supplementary report for the process. Specifically, we endorsed the adoption of the World Health Organization's Strategic Approach to strengthen sexual and reproductive health policies and programs—essentially a process, conducted by the ministry of health with the WHO, of reviewing and revising all reproductive health policies in the country. The government has also accepted a recommendation to ensure that adolescents will have access to sexual and reproductive health services, and will inform women and adolescents about their rights under Peruvian law.

United Nations Committee Against Torture

Abortion is illegal in Peru with just a few exceptions, which aren't always clear to women or health care providers. And while emergency contraception (EC) is technically legal, it is not available to many women who need it because the constitutional court declared its free distribution as unconstitutional.  By recommending that Peru guarantee access to EC, the CAT Committee is framing the denial of this essential reproductive health care drug, particularly in cases of rape, as cruel and inhumane treatment. The Committee also pointed to the country's high maternal-mortality rate as evidence that illegal abortions are prevalent, certainly because of these issues.

The committee urged the government to legalize abortion in all cases of rape and incest, and to make express exceptions for therapeutic abortion as well. It asks for the legalization of emergency contraception as well as a public clarification that all of these services are lawful.

The committee also recommended that no person—including the mentally handicapped—should be sterilized without his or her informed consent.

The Center congratulates Peru on accepting the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review. And we urge officials to consider and implement the recommendations from the UN Committee Against Torture and improve the health and well-being of women across Peru.

 

Download the Human Rights Council’s Report on the Universal Periodic Review here.

Download the Committee Against Torture's concluding observations below.