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 based on a legal analysis of rape as a form of torture under international human rights law, as well as the application 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.”