UNITED NATIONS, October 15 — While perpetrators of rape and other forms of sexual violence should be held accountable, the death penalty and torture are not the answer, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday.
Michelle Bachelet has issued a statement calling on governments to take action against these crimes, improve access to justice and the compensation of victims, and institute immediate criminal investigations and prosecutions for those responsible.
Her intervention comes in the wake of recent reports of horrific rapes in many parts of the world, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia. These incidents have caused outrage and demands for justice.
‘I share the outrage and stand in solidarity with the survivors and with those who demand justice. ‘I am concerned that there are also calls – and in some places that have already been adopted – to bring in cruel and inhuman punishments and the death penalty for offenders,’ she said. Bachelet said.
The UN’s head of human rights has given examples of these laws, such as a law amendment introduced last month in the state of Kaduna, in northwestern Nigeria.
The law allows surgical castration for male rapists and removes the fallopian tubes from women convicted of the crime: an operation known as bilateral salpingectomy. These procedures will be followed by the death penalty if the victim is under 14 years of age.
Earlier this week, the Bangladeshi government approved an amendment imposing the death penalty for rape, while calling for a public suspension in Pakistan.
Similar demands for the death penalty have been made elsewhere.
The main argument for the death penalty in this case is the belief that it deters rape, but according to Ms Bachelet there is no evidence.
“Evidence shows that the certainty of punishment rather than its seriousness deters crime,” she said.
‘In most countries around the world, the biggest problem is that victims of sexual violence do not have access to justice in the first place – whether due to stigma, fear of retaliation, entrenched gender stereotypes and power imbalances, lack of police and judicial training. , laws that approve or excuse certain types of sexual violence or the lack of protection for victims. ”
The High Commissioner emphasized that the death penalty, or fines such as surgical castration or removal of the fallopian tubes, would not solve any of the myriad barriers to access to the law, nor would it play a preventive role.
“In fact, the death penalty discriminates against the poor and most marginalized individuals consistently and disproportionately, often leading to further human rights violations,” she said, pointing out that surgical castration and salpingectomy violate international human rights law.
‘I call on States to take a victim – centered approach to combating the scourge of rape and other sexual violence. ‘It is crucial that women take an active part in the design of measures to prevent and address these crimes, and that law enforcement and judicial officials receive the necessary training in dealing with such cases,’ she said.
“If it is tempting to impose draconian punishments on those who commit such monstrous acts, we must not allow ourselves to commit further transgressions.”