Latin America: UN Develops Legal Protocol to Challenge Impunity for Femicides

The United Nations has released a Model Protocol to help Latin American countries improve prosecution of femicides and reduce violent crimes against women. The Protocol is based on a U.N. Human Rights methodology developed to combat gender-based killings in El Salvador. It draws on the expertise of criminal justice professionals across Latin America.

The Small Arms Survey, established by the Swiss Government, found that women and girls suffer one fifth of all homicides worldwide and that, “of the 25 countries with high femicide rates, more than half are in the Americas.” Rising rates of violence against women in Latin America are attributed to entrenched gender discrimination and the spread of small arms, organized crime, human and drug trafficking.

Many states in Latin America have criminalized femicide but accountability for these and other crimes of violence against women remains very low. According to UN expert on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, the objective of the Protocol is “to address and challenge impunity in the killings of women.” The Protocol will help Latin American states modify their legal systems to combat “the discriminatory manner in which crimes against women and girls are dealt with; the insufficient attention given to previous complaints presented by the victims; the inadequacy of criminal investigations; and the use of mitigating circumstances to lower sentences.” 

 

Compiled from: Model protocol: Ending impunity for femicide across Latin America, UN Women (September 10, 2014).