Targeted and tortured: UN experts urge greater protection for LGBTI people in detention
Targeted and tortured
23 June 2016
To mark the International Day for the Victims of Torture on 26 June, a group* of UN human rights experts is calling on States to redouble efforts to prevent the ill-treatment and torture faced by LGBTI people in places of detention:
GENEVA (23 June 2016) - “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons face multiple and extreme forms of violence and discrimination, including torture and ill-treatment, and this is exacerbated when they are deprived of their liberty, for example in prisons where they are often subjected to abuse both by fellow inmates and staff,” said Sir Malcolm Evans, Chair of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.
“LGBTI persons are at risk of torture and ill-treatment wherever they may be deprived of their liberty, be it in prison, in healthcare facilities or in immigration detention,” said Jens Modvig, Chair of the Committee against Torture. “That is why the Committee is striving to protect LGBTI people from being forcibly sent back to countries where, based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, they may face torture, criminalization, detention, ill-treatment and even murder,” he added.
The experts highlighted that with very few exceptions, there is a lack of training to understand the needs of LGBTI people and to avoid their stigmatization in detention. There is also a lack of policies and methods to recognise people’s self-identified gender, and to carry out proper risk assessments.
“For transgender women and men, for example, it is often a situation of complete abandonment, resulting in some transgender women being placed in male-only prisons, where they are exposed to a high risk of rape, often with the complicity of prison personnel,” said Sir Malcolm, adding that the SPT has identified measures for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI people in detention.**
“LGBTI people are often stigmatized and dehumanized, leaving them particularly vulnerable to violence and ill-treatment, that in many cases amounts to torture and is a clear violation of State obligations under international human rights law and standards such as the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” said UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez.
“Breaking the silence on torture and ill-treatment endured by LGBTI people is critical. The UN Fund for Victims of Torture thus supports programmes providing specialized assistance to LGBTI victims of torture.
The UN Fund, marking this year 35 years of work, calls for increased support for the rehabilitation of victims, including LGBTI people,” said Gaby Oré Aguilar, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.
“It is crucial that LGBTI people are fully involved in discussions and decisions concerning how detention systems can respond most effectively to their needs and respect their human rights,” the experts stressed.
(*) The joint statement was issued by the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the UN Committee against Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.