States must eradicate femicide globally: UN expert
23 October 2023
GENEVA (23 October 2023) – Femicide has become a global epidemic as States fail in their duty to protect victims of gender violence, a UN expert said.
“Femicide is a global tragedy of pandemic proportions,” said Morris Tidball-Binz, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
“Every year, tens of thousands of girls and women, including trans women, are killed worldwide because of their gender and many more are at a risk of death from gender violence because States fail in their duty to effectively protect victims’ lives and ensure their safety,” he said.
In his report to the General Assembly, Tidball-Binz said that gender-based killings constitute an extreme and widespread manifestation of existing forms of gender-based violence. As a forensic specialist, he retraced standards and best practices for the investigation of femicide to address impunity, provide justice to victims and their families, and contribute to prevention.
“Hundreds of women on death row face execution in many countries as a result of gender-biased prosecution and sentencing practices,” the expert said. He urged States to abide by their obligations and step-up efforts to investigate and eradicate femicides and made practical recommendations based on best practices.
The report focuses on the investigation of femicide as a necessary step to identify, seek accountability and prevent this global scourge. The Special Rapporteur said that the use of a gendered lens and specific protocols in investigating the killings of women and girls enables these deaths to be identified, documented and counted as femicides to ensure truth, justice and reparation for victims and their families, including more accurate data collection and analysis to inform investigations and strengthen prevention.
“Perpetrators are mostly, but not exclusively, partners or ex-partners, and often escape accountability, often due to a lack of proper investigation,” he said.
Tidball-Binz called on States to enact legal and administrative measures to uphold the rights of women and girls, including those whose gender expression or identity is female, applying a gender perspective in complementarity with an intersectional approach.
“Authorities must exercise due diligence, taking every possible step to investigate and prosecute femicides and provide effective support, remedies and reparations to victims and their families and prevent recurrence,” the expert said. He stressed that local beliefs, customs, traditions, or religions must not be invoked to limit the rights of women and girls or as a defence against a charge of femicide.
“The duty to investigate any potentially unlawful death, including femicides, has assumed customary status in international law and the failure to do so may constitute a violation of the right to life,” he said.
The report identifies global best practices that have proven effective in combating femicide, as well as standards for investigating such crimes. The Special Rapporteur’s recommendations provide a practical and evidence-based roadmap for preventing and eradicating femicide worldwide.
Mr Morris Tidball-Binz is the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions appointed in 2021. He is a medical doctor specialized in forensic science, human rights and humanitarian action and has contributed to the development and worldwide use of forensic science to investigate and document extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances, torture and detention conditions, as well as to humanitarian action in armed conflicts and natural catastrophes.
Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
For additional information and media requests please contact the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Gihan Indraguptha ([email protected]) or [email protected].