Earlier this year, a team from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP acted as co-counsel on four individual communications that were submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC). The communications asked the HRC to find each of Nicaragua, Guatemala and Ecuador in breach of its international human rights obligations under the ICCPR.
The petitions came about as part of Debevoise’s work with the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR). They concern four women from Ecuador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, who were systematically abused and raped when they were children, and becoming pregnant at the age of 14 or younger.
All four tried to use the criminal justice system in their countries to hold their aggressors accountable. In all four cases, the criminal justice system failed to arrest the attackers.
The girls were forced to continue their pregnancies, as abortion laws in their countries either criminalized abortions in all cases, or allowed abortions in such limited circumstances and subject to such strict penalties, so as to make them unavailable in practice.
The women made the decision to work with local human rights NGOs, Planned Parenthood Global (PPG) and the CRR to seek redress on the international stage for what they have suffered, and to prevent other girls suffering the same experience in the future.
If the petitions are successful, the HRC’s findings will promote protection from violence and discrimination, reproductive rights and access to justice for women and girls in an area of the world where rates of sexual violence are extremely high.
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