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Bachelet says rape is a “horrendous” crime but speaks out against the death penalty and castration

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said Thursday that rape is a “horrendous” crime but has spoken out against the imposition of the death penalty and surgical castration as sentences against those responsible.

“Following numerous reports of horrific rapes, which have occurred in different parts of the world in recent weeks, including Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tunisia, among others, people have justifiably been outraged and called for justice for. the victims and the adoption of measures to prevent sexual assaults, “she said.

“I share this outrage and sympathize with the survivors, and with those who demand justice, but I am concerned that there are also calls, and that in some places laws are already being passed, to apply cruel and inhuman penalties in addition to the death penalty for those responsible, “he said.

In this sense, he has cited the decision of the Nigerian state of Kaduna to approve surgical castrations for those convicted of rape, in addition to the death penalty in cases in which the victim is under the age of fourteen.

The governors of the Nigerian states declared a state of emergency in June for rape and sexual violence against women and children, amid an increase in cases amid restrictions imposed in some areas of the country to contain the spread of the pandemic of coronavirus.

On the other hand, Bachelet recalled that the President of Bangladesh, Abdul Hamid, issued an ordinance on Tuesday modifying the Law on Prevention of Violence against Women and Children with the aim of incorporating the death penalty as punishment for violations.

“The main argument in favor of the death penalty is that it deters rapes, although in practice there is no evidence that the death penalty deters crimes more than other forms of punishment,” explained Bachelet, who has added that “the data show that the certainty of receiving a sentence, rather than its severity, discourages committing the crime.”

“In most countries around the world, the key problem is that rape victims do not have access to justice to begin with, be it because of stigma, fear of reprisals, entrenched gender stereotypes and imbalances of power, lack of training of police officers and judges, by laws that allow or excuse certain types of sexual violence or by the lack of protection for the victims, “he lamented.

For this reason, he has emphasized that the death penalty and the castration of men and women convicted of rape will not solve these problems or serve as a preventive measure.

“In fact, the death penalty systematically and disproportionately discriminates against the poor and most marginalized people, in addition to often resulting in additional human rights violations,” he said, while highlighting that castration violates the absolute prohibition torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in compliance with international human rights law.

Bachelet has called on governments to “adopt a victim-centered approach to combat the scourge of rape and other types of sexual violence.”

“It is essential that women are active participants in the design of measures to prevent and combat these crimes, and that public order and judicial officials receive the relevant training to be able to deal with these cases,” she stressed.

“As tempting as it may be to impose draconian penalties for those who carry out these monstrous actions, we cannot afford to commit additional violations,” he added.

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