Tenth Aniversary of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women “Convention of Belém do Pará”
Tuesday, June 8, 2004 10:25 AM

In a joint declaration, Amnesty International and other organizations made an urgent appeal to all member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) regarding the status of women in the Americas. The declaration is released on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women Convention of Belém do Pará (Spanish), which is the only international treaty that specifically addresses violence against women. Although the Convention has received more ratifications than any other human rights treaty in the region, thousands of women are still victims of gender-related violence.

In the context of armed conflict, refugees and displaced persons frequently are subject to human rights abuses by security forces, border guards, smugglers, armed groups and other social actors. In many cases, women and girls who have been recruited as soldiers suffer violence and sexual abuse, even within their own armed groups.

Women also encounter violence from their partners, family members, employers, or even of institutionalized violence.

Such acts often go unpunished. It is not unusual for states to fail to carry out impartial and effective investigations into abuses committed by their own employees. When the perpetrators of such acts of violence are individuals, the “due diligence” required by the Convention of Belém do Pará is absent, and there is a failure to take reasonable steps to investigate and identify those responsible and impose the appropriate sanctions.

The Inter-American Human Rights System is playing an important role in this context. The system has proposed action with regard to the determination of specific obligations for states on the elimination of acts of violence against women. In this respect, the analyses, recommendations and decisions of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and its Report on Women’s Rights,  and the various decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights  are significant.

However, such efforts will never be sufficient to change the situation unless the state parties clearly embrace the commitments laid down in the “Convention of Belém do Pará,” adopting standards compatible with that instrument and developing policies to promote a culture which is conductive to the eradication of all forms of violence against women.

Compiled from:

Amnesty International public statement, 8 June 2004, available here, and the Organization of American States.