IBAHRI applauds landmark verdict on Peruvian discriminatory LGBTQI+ torture case

Friday 17 April 2020

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) welcomes the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) that holds Peru responsible for the arbitrary detention and rape of a transgender woman. The decision, made public on 6 April 2020, marks the first ruling by the IACtHR on a complaint of discriminatory torture against a member of the LGBTQI+ community.

In 2008, Azul Rojas Marín was stripped, beaten and raped by police in Northern Peru, and subjected to derogatory comments about her sexual orientation. Her initial criminal complaint against the police officers was dismissed by state prosecutors. In November 2019, the IBAHRI presented an amicus curiae to the IACtHR on discrimination as the purpose of torture and the obligation to investigate violence against the LGBTI+ community, based on regional and international jurisprudence, and on the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in a gender-inclusive manner.


IBAHRI Co-Chair, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: ‘The IBAHRI commends both the judgement of the IACtHR in holding Peru to account on discrimination against a victim of torture in the LGBTQI+ community and the provisions made towards eliminating the recurrence of such a brutal offence. By its decision and reasoning, the IACtHR has demonstrated leadership not only in the InterAmerican region, but worldwide, where there is an urgent need for new approaches to trans persons who suffer daily disrespect for their humanity and human dignity.’

The landmark ruling by the IACtHR has held that Ms Rojas Marín’s detention was ‘manifestly arbitrary’ and that she was subjected to an act of torture by police authorities in Peru in 2008. The Court has ordered the Government of Peru to pay damages, provide the victim with medical and psychological treatment, and to introduce a series of measures to prevent future crimes of a similar nature in Peru. These measures include a new protocol for investigating attacks against LGBTQI+ people; tracking statistics of violence against the community; and creating and implementing a training and sensitisation plan for state representatives on violence against LGBTQI+ people. The ruling reinforced that an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression are categories protected by the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.

IBAHRI Co-Chair Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc said: ‘The IACtHR ruling against the Peruvian state authorities is of great significance to the LGBTQI+ community in the Americas, marking the upholding of the human rights of the individuals comprising this group in the region. We are proud of the IBAHRI’s contribution to this case and commend the IACtHR judgement, as well as the court’s initiative to implement anti-discrimination training. In the wake of the disappointing judgements recently reached in Singapore, this gives the IBAHRI renewed hope that courts around the world will uphold fundamental freedoms that protect LGBTQI+ individuals from discrimination.’


Notes to the Editor

  1. In May 2010, the IBAHRI passed the Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Human Rights. The Resolution recognises that discrimination against anybody on the grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity is contrary to fundamental principles of human rights. As a result of this recognition, the IBAHRI is committed to the repeal of criminal laws imposing penalties against people in respect of consensual, adult, private sexual conduct. Click here to read more: www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/About_the_HRI/HRI_Activities/sexual-orientation
  2. The IBAHRI carries out extensive work training legal and medical professionals in the prevention of torture. Click here for a variety of resources including videos and reports.
  3. Click here to view related items on the IBAHRI’s work in Peru: www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/Work_by_regions/Americas/Peru
  4. IBAHRI Co-Chair The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG was a Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009) and has previously held international posts including as Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council on North Korea (2013-2014).
  5. IBAHRI Co-Chair Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc is the Immediate Past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association (2000-2019) and has held a number of assignments including as an ad hoc judge of the European Court of Justice.
  6. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  7. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

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