Note for the media - Access to justice for rape cases remains a challenge
NOTE FOR THE MEDIA
Access to justice for rape cases remains a challenge
26 June 2012
The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti’s (MINUSTAH) Human Rights Section (HRS) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published today a report focused on the response of the judiciary to cases of rape that were lodged in five police stations or sub-stations in the greater metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince between June and August 2010. The report is not intended to be an exhaustive study, but rather seeks to describe the challenges encountered by victims of rape to access justice. The research found that due to blockages in the criminal justice system not a single case was ruled on over the 18 month period reviewed.
In general, the way in which the police and the judiciary handle criminal affairs affects the smooth processing of lodged complaints and contributes to impunity and an absence of justice, particularly in rape cases. The HRS noted the difficult conditions in which the police and the judiciary function, recalling the obligation of the State to take the appropriate measures to ensure that investigations and prosecutions in criminal matters are undertaken systematically and to ensure that victims of rape are granted a fair trial.
In its report, the HRS recommends more particularly that law-makers provide a well-defined terminology of what legally constitutes a rape, adopt legislation protecting women, strengthen the capacities of police and the judiciary and endow the police with the necessary resources to properly conduct its investigations.
“The fight against rape and other forms of gender based violence requires a multi-sectoral approach comprising medical, psycho-social, and legal responses.” Roberto Ricci, Chief of the Human Rights Section in MINUSTAH and representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Haiti.
The HRS’s mandate consists in monitoring and investigating human rights violations and to issue public reports on its findings. The HRS is also mandated to work closely with the Haitian police and judiciary and, at their request, provide support in responding to violations and preventing their recurrence. In this regard, the HRS benefited from the full cooperation of the State authorities in the preparation of this report, which was also shared with the minister of Justice prior to its publication. The main objective of the report is to support the police and the judiciary in their response to human rights violations, and to strengthen the Haitian judicial institutions.
Noboru I. Fernandes de Abreu
Human Rights Officer
Mob.: + 509 46 43 01 42