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Michelle Bachelet statement on the death penalty and torture for sexual crimes

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Thursday called on governments worldwide to redouble their efforts to prevent rape and other forms of sexual violence, improve access to justice and reparations for victims, and ensure prompt criminal investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators.

Michelle Bachelet shared her outrage and support to victims of horrific rapes, in various parts of the world in recent weeks, including Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tunisia, among others.
At the same time, the High Commissioner expressed her concern on calls and legal measures already adopted that imposes cruel and inhuman punishments and the death penalty for perpetrators.

According to Bachelet, “the main argument being made for the death penalty is for it to deter rape – but in fact there is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime more than other forms of punishment. Evidence shows that the certainty of punishment, rather than its severity, deters crime”.

She added, “in most countries around the world, the key problem is that victims of sexual violence have no access to justice in the first place – whether due to stigma, fear of reprisals, entrenched gender stereotypes and power imbalances, lack of police and judicial training, laws that condone or excuse certain types of sexual violence or the lack of protection for victims.”

The High Commissioner urges States “to adopt a victim-centred approach to fighting the scourge of rape and other sexual violence.”
Bachelet said the UN Human Rights Office and other UN human rights mechanisms have developed clear recommendations on methods to effectively combat sexual violence, with useful guidance in General Recommendation 35 of the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and General Comment 36 of the UN Human Rights Committee. She said the Office stands ready to provide advice to States on measures to prevent sexual violence and to bring an end to impunity for such crimes.