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“Ruled out of the rule of law” – UN expert calls for a gender perspective for the criminal justice system

NEW YORK (21 October 2011) – There is an urgent need to integrate a gender perspective in the criminal justice system as a fundamental step towards allowing equal access to justice for women and men, said Friday the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul.

“The integration of a gender perspective and the rights of women in the criminal justice system is one component of the solution needed to ensure that women are not ruled out of the rule of law,” she said in New York presenting her latest annual report* to the UN General Assembly. “Given the historical and pervasive discrimination against women throughout the world, we have to look at how women are represented and treated in the criminal justice system.”

“Consolidation of the work of the United Nations on women culminated with the creation of UN Women, yet, I strongly believe that there is no room to become complacent,” Ms. Knaul stressed. “We all have an essential responsibility to integrate a gender perspective and the needs of both women and men into our own mandates and work.”

Expressing her concern by the lack of integration of gender and women’s perspectives into judging, judicial procedures and the judiciary at large, the Special Rapporteur underscored that “traditional notions of judging and judicial authority must be challenged and the representation of women in the judiciary encouraged.”

“I hope this report will encourage stakeholders to properly study, understand, assess, and challenge the impacts and effects that gender-based stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination have on both women and men in their access to and engagement in the justice system as a whole, and the criminal justice system in particular,” Ms. Knaul said.

Gabriela Knaul took up her functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on 1 August 2009. In that capacity, she acts independently from any Government or organization. Ms. Knaul has a long-standing experience as a judge in Brazil and is an expert in criminal justice and the administration of judicial systems.

(*) Read’s report to the UN General Assembly: http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=A/66/289

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/judiciary/index.htm

Check the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/indjudiciary.htm

For media requests please contact Fred Kirungi (+1 917 367 3431 / kirungi@un.org) or write to srindependence@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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