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26th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, 22-26 May 2017

Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences Ms. Dubravka Simonovic

Vienna, Austria

Excellences,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Chairperson,

Let me begin by congratulating you and your Bureau on your election and thanking the UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Fedotov, for inviting me to participate in the 26th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ). I am very pleased to address the Commission during its discussion on agenda item six on the “Use and application of United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice” and to share my expertise in the field of preventing and responding to violence against women.

I am particularly glad to be able to engage with the CCPCJ which, as the principal policymaking body of the United Nations in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, has carried out an important body of work in the field of violence against women as reflected in the updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

The importance of our cooperation was also recognized by the Human Rights Council, which in its Resolution A/HRC/RES/32/19, adopted on 1 July 2016 requested my mandate to hold consultations or participate in the work of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in order to accelerate the implementation of the goals of the mandate (para. 20).

The Doha Declaration on Integrating Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice into the Wider United Nations Agenda to Address Social and Economic Challenges and to Promote the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, require mainstreaming of  "a gender perspective into our criminal justice systems by developing and implementing national strategies and plans to promote the full protection of women and girls from all acts of violence, including gender-related killing of women and girls, in accordance with the obligations of parties under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol, and taking into account the updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and General Assembly resolutions on the gender-related killing of women and girls.

Furthermore, this Commission prepared the General Assembly Resolution A/70/176 on gender-related killings of women and girls. The Resolution also encourages Member States to collect, disaggregate, analyse and report data on gender-related killing of women and, where appropriate, to the extent possible, involve civil society, academia, victims’ representatives and relevant international organizations and provide appropriate training to relevant personnel on technical and ethical aspects of such data collection and analysis.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes gender-based violence as a major obstacle to social and economic development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Violence against women is specifically addressed in target 5.2 on the elimination of all forms of violence against all women and girls and extremely relevant to target 5.1 on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against all women and girls. Eliminating femicides is additionally relevant to SDG 16 and target 16.1 to “Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere”.

The implementation of the 2030 global framework offers a new opportunity to accelerate progress in achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls and on eliminating violence against women through improving data collection on violence against women, and femicide in particular.

I have already last year informed you that I have launched an initiative on the establishment of a “Femicide watch”, or a “gender-related killing of women watch” and publish data on the number of femicides, disaggregated by age and ethnicity of victims, and the sex of the perpetrators, and very importantly indicating the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. Information concerning the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators should also be collected and published.

In October 2016, I presented a report to the General Assembly (A/71/398) where I recommended modalities for the establishment of femicide watch and/or observatories, to collect and analyze data on femicide. Femicide, or the gender-related killing of women, is defined as the killing of women because of their sex and/or gender. This report was meant to provide guidance to States on modalities to establish femicide watch. I have proposed that in general, States should disaggregate femicide data under two broad categories that could further include subcategories in line with national realities:  

i.  intimate partner femicide/ family related femicide - based on relationship between the victim and the perpetrator
ii. other femicides.

I conclude my report with a set of recommendations aimed at facilitating the establishment of femicide watches or observatories on violence against women.  These could be either established as separate mechanisms or mechanisms attached to existing national mechanisms or other observatories on violence against women. These panels should be established as interdisciplinary bodies with the inclusion of legal professionals, and connected to or integrated with existing mechanisms on prevention of violence against women, such as ombudspersons. Femicide watches would also be established by non-governmental organisations. These femicide watches or review panels should analyse data on femicides and propose concrete measures to reduce the prevalence of this crime as well as develop a set of risk factors to prevent such violence.

I also issued a call to States, courts, academia and all stakeholders to submit to my mandate landmark court cases on femicides to offer publicly available examples of the application of relevant international, regional and national standards, with a view of establishing an online collection of such cases from regional and national courts.

As Special Rapporteur, one of the ways I engage with States is through carrying out country visits, during which I meet with Government representatives, civil society organisations, human rights defenders, victims and other stakeholders and following which I provide action-orientated recommendations through visit reports.

Since the beginning of my mandate I conducted several country visits during which I paid particular attention to the issue of femicides. Following my visit to South Africa, I recommended that the Government expand the collection of data to all forms of VAW and encourage the establishment of “femicide watches” in each of the 9 provinces and a “femicide watch” at the national level, under the auspices of the Gender Equality Commission, to analyse each case of femicide in order to identify any failure of protection with a view of improving and developing further preventive measures. (A/HRC/32/42/Add.2).

Following my visit to Georgia, I recommended to the Government to establish a “femicide watch”, to collect and publish each year data on the number of femicides, and to establish a separate body or entrust and exiting body to analyse each case of femicide.  (A/HRC/32/42/Add.3). Recently the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia declared that it will be the institution which, within the mandate granted by law, will monitor the gender-related killing of women, attempted killing of women and each case of pushing a woman to suicide.

Furthermore , during my visit to Argentina last November, I have learned that the office of the National Ombudsman had established a femicide observatory, in line with the recommendations I made in October 2016 in my report to the UN General Assembly, and I recommended that the Government provide adequate financial resources to the Office of the Ombudsman to enable it to fully comply with its mandate, especially with respect to its work on violence against women and the femicide observatory and encourage all relevant institutions to support and cooperate with the Ombudsman and the femicide observatory.

Most recently, at the end of my official visit to Australia, I called upon the Government to further improve collection of comparable data on gender-related killings of women and I encouraged the Government to expand homicide/femicide review panels to all States and territories, to consider the expansion of their work as femicide panels, and to establish or designate other independent institutions to work in collaboration with NGOs representatives, according to modalities I recommended in my report to the UN General Assembly.

In conclusion, I would like to inform you that in my next thematic work I will aim to address the new challenges brought by online violence against women to prevention, protection, prosecution and redress for such acts. While the use of information and communications technology has contributed to the empowerment of women and girls and to a fuller realization of their human rights, it is also used to commit or aggravate different forms of on line GVWAW.  There is a need to examine this recent phenomenon and the applicability of national laws to it. I seek to collect existing good practices on law regulating on line violence against women and sexual harassment, with a view to make recommendations for States and non-State actors to fight online violence against women and girls while respecting freedom of expression and the prohibition of incitement to violence and hatred, in accordance with article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I am looking to collect information on:

- Existing legislative models, criminal or administrative, on prosecuting and punishing various forms of online violence against women;
- Existing policies that allow identification, reporting and rectification of incidents of harassment or violence against women via the internet services providers;
- Existing jurisprudence from international, regional, and national courts, on prosecution or administrative proceedings in such cases.

I am looking forward to further engage and cooperate with the Commission in areas of common interest of both mandates to accelerate, at the level of national criminal justice systems, the prevention, protection and criminal responses to all forms of violence against women, in compliance with States’ international human rights obligations including the due diligence obligation with respect to crimes committed by private persons.

I trust that such cooperation could be enhanced by regular consultations between the Commission and my mandate.

I thank you for your attention.