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Inter-American Commission Issues Unprecedented Recommendation to End Sexual Violence of Displaced Women, Based on IWHR Petition

January 20, 2011

On December 22, 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued an unprecedented decision, granting a legal request submitted by the IWHR Clinic and partner attorneys, requesting that the Haitian government and the international community take immediate measures to prevent violence against women and girls in Haiti.

Of the hundreds of requests for precautionary measures the Commission receives each year, few are granted. Out of these only a handful have been granted to protect beneficiaries from rape and those have been in response to rape committed by State actors — never by private actors. This precautionary measures decision is the first ever to recognize that Haiti, like all states, has a responsibility to prevent third-party violence against women.

Moreover, the Measures apply to an unnamed group of women and girls — another striking precedent as previous protections issued for women under threat of sexual violence have only been applied to specific, individual women (with their privacy protected). In contrast, this decision calls on the Haitian government to protect the rights of all women and girls living in the 22 named displacement camps, precisely because they face an elevated threat of sexual violence. The Commission’s decision helps strengthen customary international law’s recognition that sexual violence is one of the gravest forms of women’s human rights violations and calls for immediate action by states.

Read the decision »

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