Sterilisation deaths: UN expresses sadness, calls for accountability

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Sterilisation deaths: UN expresses sadness, calls for accountability
United Nations, Nov 13: The UN has expressed sadness over the "tragic" deaths of women in a mass sterilisation camp in India, calling for reform of laws to prevent recurrences and demanding accountability for those responsible to avoid impunity for people who provide low standard services.

United Nations Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin and International Planned Parenthood Federation Director-General Tewodros Melesse said they are "deeply saddened" by the tragic deaths and injuries sustained by women undergoing surgical contraception in Chhattisgarh.

The botched mass sterilisation camps killed 13 women and left scores others injured, drawing condenmation and concern from various quarters. In a joint statement, they said it is critical to ensure the quality of service for all contraceptive methods, as well as the availability of a full range of modern contraceptives. They said contraceptives must always be chosen freely by fully-informed men and women, without any forms of incentives.

In addition, surgical contraception must always be administered in safe and sanitary conditions. While welcoming the Indian government's initiation of investigations, they called for the responsible to be held accountable to avoid impunity for those who provide services at low standards. "Accountability will uphold choices of individuals and quality of service," they said in the statement issued here.

The statement said any laws, procedures or protocols that might have allowed or contributed to the deaths and other human rights violations should be reformed or changed to prevent recurrences. UNFPA and the IPPF offered their assistance for the reforms. UNFPA and the IPPF are strong advocates of rights-based family planning, enabling women and men to decide freely the number and spacing of their children without any form of coercion or discrimination, it said.

The agencies said the global community had agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development that the principle of informed free choice is essential to the long-term success of family-planning programmes. "Any form of coercion has no part to play," it said.

PTI

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