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Posted by on Jan 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

VOW supports statement on non-state torture

United Nations E/CN.6/2013/NGO/10
Economic and Social Council Distr.: General
26 November 2012
Original: English
12-60566 (E) 261212
Commission on the Status of Women
Fifty-seventh session
4-15 March 2013
Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and
to the special session of the General Assembly entitled
“Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace
for the twenty-first century”: implementation of strategic
objectives and action in critical areas of concern, and
further actions and initiatives
Statement submitted by Canadian Federation of University
Women, a non-governmental organization in consultative status
with the Economic and Social Council
The Secretary-General has received the following statement, which is being
circulated in accordance with paragraphs 36 and 37 of Economic and Social Council
resolution 1996/31. E/CN.6/2013/NGO/10
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We, members of the above-mentioned non-governmental organization (NGO),
mindful of Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31, in which the Council
calls for NGOs to support the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United
Nations, including achieving the human equality of women and men, through our
participation in the fifty-seventh session of the Commission of the Status of Women,
with its thematic focus on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence
against women and girls, with the priorities of prevention and the development of
support services for victimized women and girls of all ages, call upon all United
Nations bodies, member States and civil society to acknowledge fully that women
and girls endure acts of violence that are manifestations of torture perpetrated by
non-State or private actors.
Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifically states that
no one shall be subjected to torture. Torture constitutes a criminal attempt to destroy
and dehumanize another human being by the intentional and purposeful infliction of
severe pain and suffering physically and mentally, as stated in article 1 of the
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment. This fundamental non-derogable human right not to be subjected to
torture has been re-emphasized in other United Nations human rights instruments,
such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women (General Recommendation No. 19, item 7 (b)); the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (article 7); and article 3 (h) of the Declaration on the
Elimination of Violence against Women.
General comment No. 2 regarding the Convention against Torture, concerning
implementation of its article 2 (CAT/C/GC/2), states that torture perpetrated by
non-State actors or private individuals is prohibited. Expert members also
acknowledged that such acts perpetrated against women and girls have been
historically and discriminatorily made invisible (see CAT/C/SR.1076). Countering
this, in 1999, the then-Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment was asked by the Commission on Human Rights
to examine manifestations of torture directed disproportionately or primarily against
women (see E/CN.4/1995/34, paras. 15-24). In his 2008 and 2010 reports, the
former Special Rapporteur on Torture repeatedly addressed acts of sex/gender-based
torture, including classic torture perpetrated within families or by other private
individuals, female genital mutilation and torture that occurs in human trafficking.
In a 2010 presentation sponsored by the NGOs Women’s UN Report Network and
Worldwide Organization for Women, and by the NGO Committee on the Status of
Women-Geneva, he also stated that acid burning and widow burning are forms of
sex/gender-based tortures. The present Special Rapporteur on Torture has reinforced
female genital mutilation as a form of sex/gender-based torture.
In 1996, the then-Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes
and consequences wrote in her report that acts of torture inflicted during some
ordeals of domestic/family violence are comparable to acts of classic torture
inflicted by State actors. Examples of classic non-State torture, such as electric
shocking, cutting, burning, severe beatings or deprivations of many kinds are similar
to those perpetrated by State actors and are described in some NGO reports. In her
2009 report, the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and
child pornography, identified research that exposed that some children suffer acts of E/CN.6/2013/NGO/10
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paedophilic torture. Her comments reflect that of the 2009 study by the organization
Canadian Centre for Child Protection that identified that newborns, infants, toddlers
and older children can suffer paedophilic torture; girls were identified as the
predominant victims of sexualized violence.
Subjecting another human being to acts of torture is considered a gross
violation of human rights. To understand fully that forms of non-State torture
inflicted against women and girls constitute gross violations of their human rights
requires, firstly, acknowledging and naming its occurrence. Acknowledging and
naming acts of non-State torture works towards eliminating the human rights
discrimination that has made invisible women and girls who suffer forms of
non-State torture victimization.
Advancing women’s and girls’ equality and human dignity requires facilitating
their legal empowerment with respect for the rule of law. They require the right to
speak their truths, the right to complain and the right to be heard. The right to truth
has been considered a fundamental stand-alone non-derogable right and is closely
linked to the rule of law (see E/CN.4/2006/91). This carries a duty and obligation of
the State to protect and respect women’s and girls’ human right not to be subjected
to torture inflicted by non-State actors, to provide them with access to just equitable
laws, judicial protection, effective investigations, remedies and reparations, and to
eliminate impunity. Effective remedies include the development of support services
that are informed on the impact of specific forms of non-State torture victimization,
recovery and social reintegration and inclusion.
Under article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women, States parties agree to take all appropriate
constitutional, legislative, administrative and other measures to bring about the
advancement of women (and of girls) and to eliminate the sex/gender-based
discrimination that impairs or nullifies the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by
women of their basic equality and their human rights and fundamental freedoms in
all fields of life. There is absolutely no doubt that manifestations of non-State
torture gravely impair or nullify all areas of victimized women’s and girls’ lives. A
failure to acknowledge that women and girls suffer sex/gender-based manifestations
of torture perpetrated by non-State or private actors constitutes discrimination and a
violation of their equality, their human dignity and their human rights and their
fundamental freedoms in all fields of life.
Forms of non-State torture that meet the defining elements in article 1 of the
Convention against Torture exist on the continuum of the many forms of sex/genderbased violence and discrimination that occur throughout all societies and systems.
For instance, acts of classic non-State torture perpetrated by non-State actors against
women or girls have been underacknowledged, trivialized or misnamed as another
criminal human rights violation, such as assault or abuse, or been deemed
“acceptable” customs, traditions or ritualistic or religious-based practices. Because
all forms of violence against women and girls, including non-State or private actor
torture, have structural roots in all societies, millions of women and girls suffer acts
of sex/gender-based non-State torture globally.
We therefore call upon the Commission on the Status of Women, at its fiftyseventh session focusing on the elimination of all forms of violence against women
and girls to reaffirm women’s and girls’ inherent dignity, worth and human equality
and their right to the acknowledgement that they suffer many forms of sex/gender-E/CN.6/2013/NGO/10
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based torture perpetrated by non-State actors; and to reaffirm women’s and girls’
non-derogable human right not to be subjected to all forms of torture that is
perpetrated by non-State or private actors.
We also call upon the Commission on the Status of Women to urge member
States to increase women’s and girls’ capacities to claim their human right not to be
subjected to acts of non-State torture. The above-mentioned general comment No. 2
of the Convention against Torture imposes obligations on States parties to take
actions that will reinforce the prohibition against torture through legislative,
administrative, judicial or other actions that must, in the end, be effective in
preventing it, whether perpetrated by State or non-State actors.
Hence, there is the need to recommend the criminalization of torture
perpetrated by non-State actors, because:
• Criminalization strengthens the deterrent effect
• Naming and defining the human rights crime of non-State torture alerts
everyone — perpetrators, victims and the public — to the special gravity of
the crime of torture
• Such emphases helps to address the gravity of non-State torture crimes
• It enables State parties to be responsible for the tracking of crimes of non-State
• It enables and empowers the public to monitor and, when required, to
challenge the actions or inactions of the State when they violate the
Convention against Torture
• When State parties do not impose the specific offence of torture by non-State
actors as punishable under its criminal law, actual or potential loopholes for
impunity occur that encourage and enhance the danger of perpetuating such
privately inflicted harms
We furthermore invite all sectors of society to undertake efforts to promote
human rights education and training, in accordance with General Assembly
resolution 66/137, including the human right entitlement of women and girls not to
be subjected to sex/gender-based manifestations of torture inflicted by private
individuals or non-State actors.
Note: The statement is endorsed by the following non-governmental organizations in consultative
status with the Council: Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, International Federation of
University Women, International Federation of Women in Legal Careers, International Federation
of Women Lawyers, International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, International
Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, National Council of Women of Canada, Pacific
Women’s Watch (New Zealand), Tandem Project, United States Federation for Middle East Peace,
Women against Rape and YWCA of Canad