UN Human Rights Committee Concluding observations: Brazil, Colombia, Lesotho, Palestine and Uganda
In May 2023, SAHR submitted thematic reports to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) Treaty Body during their periodic review of Brazil, Colombia, Lesotho, Palestine and Uganda.
In relation to compliance with the International Covenant for Political and Civil Rights, the HRC adopted the following Concluding Observations to the States on gender-based violence:
The State party should adopt a comprehensive law on gender-based violence that aims to prevent, combat and punish all forms of violence against women and girls both in the public and private spheres.
Ensure that all cases of violence against women, including domestic violence, are thoroughly investigated, perpetrators prosecuted and, if convicted, punished; and that victims have access to remedies and means of protection, including in rural and remote areas.
Establish an effective mechanism to facilitate and encourage women and girls victims of violence, including domestic violence, to report cases to the police, and raise awareness about the criminal nature of such acts in order to overcome underreporting.
Allocate resources to expand the network of shelters and other support services to specialized units for women at police stations and hospitals all over the country.
The State party should continue its efforts to curb gender-based violence, in particular it should allocate the necessary financial, technical and human resources for the prevention, protection, punishment and reparation of acts of violence against women and girls and comprehensive care for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in the context of the conflict, and prioritize the prevention of gender-based and sexual violence in the areas most affected by the conflict.
Ensure that all cases of sexual violence are investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if found guilty, are sentenced in a manner proportionate to the acts committed, and that effective remedies are available to victims, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 3, of the Covenant.
Ensure the meaningful participation of victims in the proceedings.
The State party should ensure that customary law is no longer applied on those matters that are not in full conformity with the provisions of the Covenant.
Encourage the reporting of cases of violence against women and girls, including by ensuring that they have access to multiple forms of reporting and information about their rights and available remedies; and take measures to provide financial support to victims and economic empowerment of women.
Investigate all allegations of violence against women and girls, including domestic and sexual violence, prosecute and, if found guilty, punish perpetrators with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offences, and provide victims with full reparation and means of protection.
Ensure that police officers, prosecutors and judges receive appropriate training to effectively deal with cases of domestic and sexual violence and conduct awareness-raising campaigns for the general public addressing violence against women and domestic violence, including combatting stereotypes and empowering women, in urban and rural areas and addressed to all kind of audiences.
Amend its legislation to guarantee safe, legal and effective access to abortion, including in rural and remote areas, where the life and health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk, or where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the pregnant woman or girl substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or where the pregnancy is not viable.
Strengthen its measures to protect victims of trafficking in persons, in particular women and children, by, inter alia, improving proper identification of victims, providing them with full reparation, including rehabilitation and adequate compensation, as well as access to effective means of protection and assistance, including shelters.
The Committee is concerned that a number of gaps remain in the scope and coverage of legislation on violence against women and girls and domestic violence as well as in enforcement mechanisms. The Committee is further concerned that domestic violence, including marital rape, is still not explicitly criminalized in national legislation, and that legal amendments removing lenient penalties and excuses for killing of women have proven ineffective in combatting femicide. The Committee is also concerned about reports that women are pressured by their families, often by the use of violence, torture, ill-treatment and/or threats hereof, to commit suicide to protect the so-called “honour” of the family. The Committee is also concerned that women who pursue complaints through the courts are often re-victimized by intrusive and negative media attention, including in the public space through smear campaigns, intimidation by defendants, by the prosecution, and by drawn-out investigations. It is also concerned that administrative detention is used against women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence, under the pretext of protecting them, the so- called “protective custody” (arts. 2, 3, 7, 23 and 26).
The State party should adopt and enforce a comprehensive law criminalising all forms of violence against girls and women, explicitly addressing domestic violence, marital rape and crimes committed in the name of so-called “honour”.
The Committee is concerned that such forms of violence remain prevalent in the State party and regrets the lack of comprehensive data provided on the number of complaints of violence against women, investigations conducted and their outcomes. While noting that the Marriage Bill (2022) - a Private Member’s bill - is expected to criminalise marital rape, the Committee is concerned that by specifying a limited number of situations that constitute marital rape, the bill seems to imply that marital rape in any other situation does not constitute a criminal offence (arts. 2, 3, 7, 23 and 26).
The State party should collect comprehensive data on all forms of violence against women and girls, as well as domestic violence against children, including data on sanctions handed down to perpetrators and services provided to victims.
Rape and sexual violence remains a serious epidemic for marginalised and vulnerable communities. More must be done to facilitate meaningful and inclusive access to justice, that is centered on the human experiences of survivors. If you are aiming to lobby for reform or implementation of law and policy to end sexual and gender-based violence, connect with us: email@example.com
We want to see the everyday activist be the authors and monitors of law and policy and take it from paper to practice.
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