1. On November 4, 2007, under Articles 51 and 61 of the Convention, the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter “the Commission” or “the Inter- American Commission”) presented an application against the United Mexican States (hereinafter “the State” or “Mexico”), which gave rise to the instant case. The initial petition was presented to the Commission on March 6, 2002. On February 24, 2005, the Commission approved Reports Nos. 16/05, 17/05 and 18/05, declaring the respective petitions admissible. On January 30, 2007, the Commission notified the parties of its decision to joinder the three cases. Subsequently, on March 9, 2007, it approved the Report on merits No. 28/07, in accordance with Article 50 of the Convention, with specific recommendations for the State. This report was notified to the State on April 4, 2007. Upon considering that Mexico had not adopted its recommendations, the Commission decided to submit the case to the jurisdiction of the Court. The Commission appointed Commissioner Florentín Meléndez and Executive Secretary Santiago A. Canton, as delegates, and Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, Deputy Executive Secretary, and Juan Pablo Albán, Marisol Blanchard, Rosa Celorio and Fiorella Melzi, Executive Secretariat specialists, as legal advisers.
2. The application relates to the State’s alleged international responsibility for “the disappearance and subsequent death” of the Mss. Claudia Ivette González, Esmeralda Herrera Monreal and Laura Berenice Ramos Monárrez (hereinafter “Mss. González, Herrera and Ramos”), whose bodies were found in a cotton field in Ciudad Juárez on November 6, 2001. The State is considered responsible for “the lack of measures for the protection of the victims, two of whom were minor children, the lack of prevention of these crimes, in spite of full awareness of the existence of a pattern of gender- related violence that had resulted in hundreds of women and girls murdered, the lack of response of the authorities to the disappearance [...]; the lack of due diligence in the investigation of the homicides [...], as well as the denial of justice and the lack of an adequate reparation.”
Lesbian, bisexual and transgender (“LBT”) women experience gender-based violence both on account of their gender and because of the way their sexual orientation or gender identity challenges patriarchal concepts of gender and gender roles.
This double exposure to causes of gender-based violence puts them at particular risk. A recent survey by London’s Metropolitan Police of more than 1100 LBT women found that approximately twice as many had experienced violence or abuse on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity as on all other grounds, despite the fact that nearly half of respondents changed their behaviour or appearance to avoid homophobic or transphobic abuse.
This double exposure also means that violence against them can only be addressed effectively by the Convention if the part played by homophobia and transphobia is acknowledged and specific counter-measures identified.
However, there is a further reason to acknowledge explicitly violence against LBT women. Regrettably, as the Committee of Ministers has stressed, homophobia and transphobia are widespread in Europe.2 Without specific references in the Convention it remains all too possible that its measures will not be used to combat violence against LBT women.
Inclusion of such references would be an effective response to the invitation of the Committee of Ministers to all intergovernmental committees to make proposals to strengthen, in law and in practice, the equal rights and dignity of LGBT persons and to combat discriminatory attitudes against them.
This submission therefore recommends that the Convention identify groups of women who are especially vulnerable to violence, including specifically LBT women, and suggests areas where particular measures are required to address violence against them, such as awareness-raising, education, improving confidence by LBT women in law enforcement agencies, increasing the level of incidents reported to the police, and specific training for agencies involved in victim support.
It also recommends that the non-discrimination clause of the Convention makes explicit reference to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Lesbian, bisexual and transgender (“LBT”) women experience gender-based violence both on account of their gender and because of the way their sexual orientation or gender identity challenges patriarchal concepts of gender and gender roles. This double exposure to causes of gender-based violence puts them at particular risk. A recent survey by London’s Metropolitan Police of more than 1100 LBT women found that approximately twice as many had experienced violence or abuse on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity as on all other grounds, despite the fact that nearly half of respondents changed their behaviour or appearance to avoid homophobic or transphobic abuse. This double exposure also means that violence against them can only be addressed effectively by the Convention if the part played by homophobia and transphobia is acknowledged and specific counter-measures identified. However, there is a further reason to acknowledge explicitly violence against LBT women. Regrettably, as the Committee of Ministers has stressed, homophobia and transphobia are widespread in Europe.2 Without specific references in the Convention it remains all too possible that its measures will not be used to combat violence against LBT women. Inclusion of such references would be an effective response to the invitation of the Committee of Ministers to all intergovernmental committees to make proposals to strengthen, in law and in practice, the equal rights and dignity of LGBT persons and to combat discriminatory attitudes against them. This submission therefore recommends that the Convention identify groups of women who are especially vulnerable to violence, including specifically LBT women, and suggests areas where particular measures are required to address violence against them, such as awareness-raising, education, improving confidence by LBT women in law enforcement agencies, increasing the level of incidents reported to the police, and specific training for agencies involved in victim support. It also recommends that the non-discrimination clause of the Convention makes explicit reference to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa entered into force in 2005. Met with much celebration for the protection it would provide African women, the Protocol was heralded as one of the most forward-looking human rights instruments. Now, fifteen years after it was conceived, the Protocol deserves a full assessment of the issues that it has faced in accession and will face in implementation. This Note analyzes the way in which the Protocol was developed and the effect the Protocol’s language will have on its ability to achieve its object and purpose. This Note contends that certain language is too narrow, creating an over-specificity that will deter necessary countries from joining. However, this Note also asserts that certain aspirational provisions of the Protocol are overly broad, creating legal obligations that States Parties will be unable to meet. Ultimately, African countries with questionable women’s rights records will refuse to sign—States Parties will either be unable or unwilling to protect women to the extent required, leaving women in the same position as before. Worse yet, some States Parties may implement extreme measures that could increasingly disadvantage women over time. By relying on Western ideas of women’s rights and without explicitly determining how or if customary law will be considered in implementation, the Protocol faces serious obstacles on the domestic level. This Note concludes by asserting that unless States Parties consider a more grassroots, community-oriented approach to implementing the Protocol, the instrument’s requirements will remain unrealized, and women in Africa will remain marginalized.
*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.
This volume argues that international human rights law has made a positive contribution to the realization of human rights in much of the world. Although governments sometimes ratify human rights treaties, gambling that they will experience little pressure to comply with them, this is not typically the case. Focusing on rights stakeholders rather than the United Nations or state pressure, Beth Simmons demonstrates through a combination of statistical analyses and case studies that the ratification of treaties leads to better rights practices on average. By several measures, civil and political rights, women’s rights, a right not to be tortured in government detention, and children’s rights improve, especially in the very large heterogeneous set of countries that are neither stable autocracies nor stable democracies. Simmons argues that international human rights law should get more practical and rhetorical support from the international community as a supplement to broader efforts to address conflict, development, and democratization.
This study is undertaken to provide UNICEF with recommendations for supporting the withdrawal of reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). While the problem of reservations is well documented as a legal issue, the practical effect of reservations on the primary stakeholders—women, girls, families, and communities—and the practical issues surrounding withdrawal of reservations have received much less attention.
This paper provides an overview of the legal and practical implications of reservations; an examination of the different domestic legal systems in which reservations are entered; a “mapping” of the current reservations to CEDAW; and an exploration of the domestic legal and political contexts in which some of the most critical reservations have been withdrawn.
The Department of State is required by law to submit each year to the U.S. Congress a report on foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons. This is the ninth annual TIP Report; it seeks to increase global awareness of the human trafficking phenomenon by shedding new light on various facets of the problem and highlighting shared and individual efforts of the international community, and to encourage foreign governments to take effective action against all forms of trafficking in persons.
Many acts, conducts or events may be viewed as torture in certain circumstances, while they will not be viewed as torture in some other situations. In fact, there is no single definition existing under international law but most international dispositions and bodies tend to agree on four constitutive elements of torture, as further explained in the first part of this paper “Elements of definition”. It should be recalled that usually in legal dispositions, torture is linked with cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment or ill-treatment. Torture is not an act in itself, or specific type of acts, but it is the legal qualification of an event or behaviour, based on the comprehensive assessment of this event or behaviour. Therefore, the difference between these different qualifications, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment or ill-treatment depends on the specific circumstances of each case and is not always obvious. It is clear that, because of the specific intensity or nature of certain acts, the qualification of torture may be easily granted in certain cases. However, in some others, the vulnerability of the victim (age, gender, status, etc), as well as the environment and the cumulative effect of various factors, should be taken into account to determine whether this case amounts to torture or whether it does not reach this ultimate threshold and should be considered as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
This review aims to take stock of the achievements of 15 years of work on the Violence against Women (VAW) mandate, which has produced an impressive collection of 14 annual reports, 32 country mission reports, 11 communication reports comprising many communications to and from governments, and several other pieces of research.
Facts: The applicant’s mother was shot and killed by the applicant’s husband in 2002 as she attempted to help the applicant flee the matrimonial home. In the years preceding the shooting the husband had subjected both the applicant and her mother to a series of violent assaults, some of which had resulted in injuries which doctors had certified as life-threatening. The incidents had included beatings, an attempt to run the two women down with a car that had left the mother seriously injured and an assault in which the applicant was stabbed seven times. The incidents and the women’s fears for their lives had been repeatedly brought to the authorities’ attention. Although criminal proceedings had been brought against the husband for a range of offences, including death threats, serious assault and attempted murder, in at least two instances they were discontinued after the women withdrew their complaints, allegedly under pressure from the husband. However, in view of the seriousness of the injuries, the proceedings in respect of the running down and stabbing incidents continued to trial. The husband was convicted in both cases. For the first offence, he received a three-month prison sentence, which was later commuted to a fine, and for the second, a fine payable in instalments. The violence culminated in the fatal shooting of the applicant’s mother, an act the husband said he carried out to protect his honour. For that offence, he was convicted of murder in 2008 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was, however, released pending appeal and renewed his threats against the applicant, who sought the authorities’ protection. It was not until seven months later, following a request for information from the European Court, that measures were taken to protect her.
**Click on "Final report of the Expert Group Meeting" at the given link to access PDF
The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDAW/DESA) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) convened an expert group meeting on good practices in legislation to address harmful practices, which was held at the United Nations at Addis Ababa, from 25 to 28 May 2009.
The expert group meeting was a follow up to an expert group meeting organized by UNDAW/DESA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, from 26 to 28 May 2008, on good practices in legislation on violence against women. That meeting prepared a model framework for legislation on violence against women, including detailed recommendations, commentaries and examples of promising practices. The framework contains two types of recommendations: those that are applicable to all forms of violence against women; and those that are specific to domestic violence or sexual violence. The purpose of this expert group meeting was to further develop the framework by elaborating specific recommendations for legislation on harmful practices against women.
In its 2009 judgment in the Case of González et al. (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico, the Court held Mexico to be responsible for human rights violations based on the handling of investigations into disappearances and deaths of women and girls in Ciudad Juárez. The state's actions, the court opined, contributed to the atmosphere of impunity surrounding the maltreatment of women in the city.
*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.
International attention first focused on the use of rape as a tactic of warfare in Bosnia between 1991 and 1995. Rape was also employed by Hutu troops against Tutsi women in the genocidal campaign in Rwanda in 1994. In December of 1993, The United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and with that the international community acknowledged its global dimensions. What became clear to the world was that women's distinctive needs, experiences, vulnerabilities, and perspectives were being excluded in the development of both the substantive and procedural rules of international humanitarian law, as well as the remedies it offered victims. A community of elite women legal policy makers comprised of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and investigators evolved to try these cases in International Criminal Tribunals in Europe and Africa. During the Bosnian war of 1992-95 Yugoslav women and hundreds of other Muslim women were systematically raped and tortured in a clear attempt to advance the cause of ethnic cleansing. Several of the women took to court, and testified against, three Bosnian soldiers in the courtrooms of the Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. The ruling made on the rape cases between Yugoslav women and the Bosnian Serb army is a landmark in establishing that systematic rape during conflict is not merely a violation of the practice of war but a crime against humanity. In turn, sexual assault during slavery has been recognized as an independent crime under humanitarian and human rights laws. The ruling is very significant because it opens the door for many other victims of sexual violence to press for their recognition as victims, for penalties, and for compensation. It also means that effort will consequently be made to promote its application. However, whether the codification of such laws can be translated into the practical protection of women during conflict remains to be seen.
*This full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.
This article examines the legacy of the ground-breaking judgment in Aydin v Turkey in which the European Court of Human Rights held that rape could constitute torture. Ten years on, it examines jurisprudential developments in the conceptualisation of torture in the specific context of the offence of rape. It is argued that while all rapes should be found to satisfy the minimum threshold for Article 3, rape does not per se satisfy the severity of harm criterion for torture. Nonetheless, where the severity of harm is established, the case is made that the purposive element of torture is satisfied in all cases of rape. Finally, in relation to the scope of State responsibility for rape, particularly by private individuals, the article suggests that while the Court's achievements in recognizing rape as a serious harm are considerable, there remain further avenues for jurisprudential development which would ensure that rape as a form of torture is recognized in a wider range of situations and circumstances than is currently the case.
I am delighted to be here at this very special event celebrating 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). I would like to share with you some of the most important recent developments in the anti- trafficking movement and the violence against women movement as linked to developments in international family law since the passage of the UDHR. In doing so, I would like to focus on two main developments: (1) at the substantive level—the expansion of the concept of human trafficking itself, originally limited to prostitution, to include the institution of marriage; and (2) at the procedural level—allowing victims of trafficking access to the international justice system as victims of a form of violence against women. Mohamed Y. Mattar
The parties to Dayras, et al. v. France (C/44/D/13/2007) are Michèle Dayras, Nelly Campo-Trumel, Sylvie Delange, Frédérique Remy-Cremieu, Micheline Zeghouani, Hélène Muzard-Fekkar and Adèle Daufrene-Levrard, seven French nationals who are represented by SOS Sexisme, an organization based in Issy-les- Moulineaux, France. They claim to be victims of a violation by France of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Convention and its Optional Protocol entered into force for the State party on 13 January 1984 and 9 September 2000, respectively. A reservation was entered by France on ratification to article 16, paragraph 1 (g), of the Convention.
The plaintiffs in G.D. and S.F. v. France (C/44/D/12/2007) who were automatically given their fathers’ last names pursuant to a customary law, despite being raised exclusively by their mothers, challenged the law as discriminating between the rights of husband and wife guaranteed under Article 16 of the Convention; the Committee held that the authors had no basis for invoking Article 16, because they themselves were not married and had no children.
The authors are two French women who are unmarried and have no children. Both authors were automatically given their father’s last name pursuant to a customary rule in force at the time of their birth.
Although the authors were abandoned by their fathers by an early age, raised exclusively by their mothers, and used their mother’s family name unofficially, they continue to be officially registered under their father’s family name. On 26 May 2006, after unsuccessfully pursuing a number of administrative procedures at the domestic level, the authors appealed to the Committee under Article 16(1), which requires non-discrimination between the rights of husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name and to transmit the family name to children.
The Committee, while acknowledging the hardship encountered by the authors, held the communication inadmissible because the authors did not qualify as victims under the meaning of Article 2 of the Optional Protocol. Since both women were unmarried, did not live in husband-and-wife relationships, and did not have children, they could not assert their rights under Article 16 of the Convention, whose beneficiaries are only married women, women living in de facto union, or mothers.
The protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (African Women's Protocol or Protocol) is a legally binding multilateral supplement to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Charter), adopted in July 2003 by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Also referred to as the "Maputo Protocol," alluding to the place of its adoption, the Protocol entered into force on November 25, 2005. By June 30, 2009, it had been ratified by 27 of the 53 members of the African Union (AU), all of whom are also States Parties to the African Charter.