Central America & the Caribbean



The Constitution of Grenada (1973)

Gender discrimination

The Constitution of Grenada (1973) is the supreme law.  It guards the human rights of all persons within the country, including the right to life and security of the person.  Gender-based violence threatens women’s rights to life and security of the person.  Specifically, Chapter 1 of the Constitution, entitled “Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms,” defines discriminatory treatment and provides for fundamental rights and freedoms for all, regardless of sex, race, place of origin, political beliefs, color, or creed, subject only to the rights and freedoms of others, and the public interest.

Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

This Act prescribes measures to prevent and combat trafficking in persons with particular regard to victims who are women and children, and aims to assist victims of trafficking and facilitating efficient investigation of cases of trafficking. The offence of trafficking is committed if a person recruits, transports, transfer, harbors or receives another person within Jamaica, from Jamaica to another country, or from another country to Jamaica. A person found guilty of an offence in terms of the Act is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years.

The Women (Employment of) Act (1942)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

This Act prohibits the employment of women in night work save in certain circumstances. Night work is recognized in the Act as “work in an industrial undertaking during the night.” The total hours of employment of women for both day and night work shall not exceed 10 hours in a 24 hour period. To ensure compliance with the Act and that no exploitation of women occurs, the Act provides for powers of inspection in industrial undertakings, and where it is found that an industrial undertaking obstructs any inspection or is guilty of an offence under this Act, it will be liable to a fine for summary conviction and in a default of payment thereof, imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months. If a proprietor or manager of an industrial undertaking is found to be in contravention of the provisions of the Act, such person will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

Offences Against the Person Act (2010)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Trafficking in persons

The Offences against the Person Act lists acts recognized in law as punishable offences and details the ways in which the law deals with the offenders under the said acts. Child stealing is recognized as a felony and any person convicted for child stealing shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding seven years. Kidnapping is recognized as a felony and any person convicted shall be liable to imprisonment for life. Attempts to procure abortion (by virtue of the pregnant woman unlawfully administering any substances to terminate her pregnancy by whatsoever means) is recognized as a felony and shall be liable for imprisonment for life. Infanticide (the act by which a woman willfully causes the death of her child under the age of twelve months) is a punishable offence recognized as the offence of manslaughter of a child.

Child Pornography (Prevention) Act of 2009 (2009)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The Child Pornography (Prevention) Act prohibits the production, distribution, importation, exportation or possession of child pornography and the use of children for pornography A “Child” is a male or a female person under the age of 18 years. Child pornography constitutes any visual representation, any audio recording or written material depicting engagement of a child in sexual activity or depicts body parts of child for sexual purposes, or depicts a child subject to torture, cruelty, or physical abuse of a sexual context. A person who has custody of, charge or care of a child and knowingly causes or incites the involvement of a child in the production of child pornography commits an offence and will be liable for a fine or to imprisonment (or both) for a term not exceeding 15 years. The production or distribution of child pornography carries a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years. Possession of child pornography carries a penalty of a fine or imprisonment (or both) for a term not exceeding 8 years. The receipt of any financial benefit from any offence in terms of the act carries a penalty of a fine or imprisonment (or both) for a term not exceeding 20 years. The act preserves the identity of the victims, thereby preventing any disclosure in relation to the victim. Any person that publishes information in contravention of the act shall be liable for a fine not exceeding one million dollars or imprisonment for a maximum period of 12 months. 

Sexual Offences Act of 2011 (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The Sexual Offences Act specifically outlaws many sex-based crimes, including rape, sexual assault, marital rape, sexual touching or interference, inducing or encouraging the violation of a child, indecent assault, violation of persons suffering from mental or physical disabilities, forcible abduction, procuration, unlawful detention with the intent to have sexual intercourse, and living on earnings of prostitution.  It also amended certain laws and standards regarding consent.  It abolished the common law presumption that a boy under fourteen years of age could not commit rape, and further noted that consent is “immaterial” in any offences involving a child.  The Act restricts evidence that can be brought at rape trials, specifically preventing the complainant from being asked about his or her sexual history.  It preserves the possibility of anonymity for persons bringing claims under the Sexual Offences Act.  Finally, it creates a sex offender registry and mandates registration for persons convicted of sexual offences.

Criminal Justice Administration Act of 2009 (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Section 23 of the Criminal Justice Administration Act states that proceedings regarding accusations of certain crimes shall be held in camera (privately).  These crimes include rape, grievous sexual assault, marital rape, sexual intercourse with a person under age sixteen, indecent adult, or involvement in prostitution.

Domestic Violence Act of 2004 (2004)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Domestic Violence Act (“DVA”), originally enacted in 1996 and amended in 2004, aims to provide protections for women and children domestic violence situations.  It gives courts the power to grant protection and occupation orders.  Applications for such orders can be brought by the victim or, in the case of a child, a parent, guardian, constable, or social worker can bring an application on the child’s behalf.  The DVA sets forth the limitations imposed by protective orders, and it states courts can grant such an order if “it is satisfied that” the individual against whom the order is sought used or threatened to use violence, mental or physical, against the person seeking the order.  Even without that showing, the court can grant a protective order if it finds the order necessary for the protection of the person “having regard to all circumstances.”  The court can grant protection and occupation orders on an ex parte basis if the court deems it necessary.  Punishment for violating an order is a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for a maximum of six months, or both.

2011 Amendments to the Constitution of Jamaica (2011)

Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

The 2011 Amendments to the Jamaican Constitution specifically enumerated a “right to freedom from discrimination on the ground of . . . being male or female.”  The amendments also guaranteed a number of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment and torture, and protection of the right to own property, receive an education, vote, and speak freely.

Código de la Familia (Family Code - Law No. 1289 of February 14, 1975) (1994)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

Divorce in Cuba results in the dissolution of matrimonial ties and all other effects described in Article 49 of the Family Code. Pursuant to Article 50, divorce can be obtained by judicial decree or notarial deed. Prior to the enactment of the Second Final Disposition of Law No. 154 (“Law No. 154”), divorce in Cuba could only be obtained by means of judicial decree. However, Law No. 154 liberalized the means to obtain a divorce by allowing divorce to be effected by notarial deed. Divorce can be achieved by the mutual agreement of the spouses or when the tribunal confirms that the specific circumstances make divorce in the best interest of the spouses and the children and, as a result, for society. The law considers that a marriage has “lost sense”   for the spouses and their children and, hence, for society as a whole, when there are causes that create a situation in which, objectively, marriage is no longer, or cannot in the future be, the union of a man and a woman which allows them to exercise the rights, satisfy the obligations and achieve the objectives mentioned in Articles 24 through 28 (inclusive) of the Family Code. The law makes clear that each of the parties can exercise the option of divorce at any time during which the motivating cause exists. If the spouses have lived together for more than one year or had children during the marriage, the tribunal will award alimony to one of them in the following cases: (1) to the spouse that does not have a paying job and lacks other means of sustenance (this type of alimony is provisional and will be payable by the other spouse for six months if there are no minor children being taken care of by the receiving spouse or for one year if there are such minor children, so that the receiving spouse can obtain a paying job); and (2) to a spouse which as a result of incapacity, age, illness or other insurmountable impediment is unable to work and lacks other means of substance. In this case, the alimony will continue as long as the obstacle persists.

El divorcio en Cuba resulta en la disolución de los lazos matrimoniales y todos los demás efectos descritos en el Artículo 49 del Código de la Familia. En conformidad con el Artículo 50, el divorcio se puede obtener por decreto judicial o escritura notarial. Antes de la promulgación de la Segunda Disposición Final de la Ley No. 154 ("Ley No. 154"), el divorcio en Cuba solo podía obtenerse mediante un decreto judicial. Sin embargo, la Ley No. 154 liberalizó los medios para obtener un divorcio al permitir que se efectúe mediante escritura notarial. El divorcio puede lograrse mediante el acuerdo mutuo de los cónyuges o cuando el tribunal confirma que las circunstancias específicas hacen que el divorcio sea en el mejor interés de los cónyuges y los hijos y, como resultado, para la sociedad. La Ley considera que un matrimonio ha "perdido el sentido" para los cónyuges y sus hijos y, por lo tanto, para la sociedad en su conjunto, cuando hay causas que crean una situación en la que, objetivamente, el matrimonio ya no es, o no puede ser, en el futuro. La unión de un hombre y una mujer les permite ejercer los derechos, cumplir con las obligaciones y lograr los objetivos mencionados en los Artículos 24 a 28 (inclusive) del Código de la Familia. La ley deja claro que cada una de las partes puede ejercer la opción de divorcio en cualquier momento durante el cual exista la causa motivadora. Si los cónyuges han vivido juntos durante más de un año o han tenido hijos durante el matrimonio, el tribunal otorgará la pensión alimenticia a uno de ellos en los siguientes casos: (1) al cónyuge que no tiene un trabajo remunerado y carece de otros medios de sustentarse (este tipo de pensión alimenticia es provisional y será pagadero por el otro cónyuge durante seis meses si el cónyuge que recibe no cuida a los niños menores de edad o por un año si hay tales hijos menores, para que el cónyuge que los recibe pueda obtener un trabajo remunerado); y (2) a un cónyuge que, como resultado de una incapacidad, edad, enfermedad u otro impedimento insuperable, no pueda trabajar y carezca de otros medios de sustancia. En este caso, la pensión alimenticia continuará mientras persista el obstáculo.

Código penal (Penal Code) (1999)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Chapter VI of Title 8 (Crimes against Life and Physical Integrity) delineates the circumstances under which abortion is illegal and establishes the penalties performing illegal abortions. Pursuant to Article 267 of the Criminal Code, anyone who, without complying with public health regulations established in respect of abortions, performs an abortion or in any way destroy the embryo, with the consent of the pregnant woman, is subject to a penalty of imprisonment for three months up to one year or a fine of 100 to 300 cuotas. If an abortion is performed (1) for profit, (2) outside of official institutions or (3) by a person that is a physician, such person is subject to an increased punishment of imprisonment for two to five years. Pursuant to Article 268, an individual who purposefully destroys the embryo (a) without using any force or violence on the pregnant woman, but without her consent, is subject to two to five years’ imprisonment or (b) with the use of any force or violence on the pregnant woman, is subject to three to eight years’ imprisonment. If concurrently with the occurrence of (a) or (b), any of the circumstances described in (1), (2) or (3) also exist, the punishment is increased to imprisonment for four to ten years. If a pregnant woman dies as a result of any of the above actions, the offending person is subject to imprisonment for a period of five to twelve years. Articles 270 and 271, respectively, prescribe the punishments for those who, without intending to do so, cause an abortion and for those who prescribe any abortion-inducing substance to destroy the embryo.

Chapter I of Title XI covers crimes against the normal development of sexual relations. Article 298 prescribes a penalty of four to ten years imprisonment for anyone who rapes a woman (either through vaginal intercourse or contra naturam) if during the criminal event any of the following circumstances occurs: (a) use of force or sufficient intimidation in order to achieve the goal or (b) if the victim is in a mentally disturbed state or suffers from temporary insanity, or the victim is deprived of reason or sense for any reason, or unable to resist, or lacks the ability to understand the consequences of her actions or to conform her conduct. Article 298 prescribes a term of imprisonment of 7 to 15 years if (a) the event is carried out with the participation of two or more persons, (b) if the perpetrator dresses up in military uniform or purports to be a public official, in each case, to facilitate consummating the act or (c) if the victim is over 12 and under 14 years of age. Finally, the Article prescribes a term of imprisonment of 15 to 30 years or the death penalty if (a) the event is carried out by a person who has previously been sanctioned for the same crime, (b) as a result of the act, the victim suffers serious injuries or illness, or (c) if the perpetrator knows that he is infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Anyone who rapes a minor who is under 12 years of age will be punished with either a term of imprisonment of 15 to 30 years or the death penalty, even if none of the circumstances described in the preceding sentence occur. Article 299 of the Criminal Code sanctions individuals guilty of “active” pedophilia. Any person who commits an act of “active” pedophilia using violence or intimidation, or by taking advantage of the fact that the victim is deprived of reason or sense or unable to resist, will be punished with imprisonment for seven to 15 years. Such penalty increases to 15 to 30 years or death if (a) the victim is a minor under 14 years of age, even if the circumstances set forth in the immediately preceding sentence are not present, (b) if, as a consequence of the criminal act, the victim suffers serious injuries or illness or (c) if the perpetrator has been previously sanctioned for the same crime.       

Article 295 imposes a punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months to two years or a fine of 200 to 500 cuotas, or both, to anyone who discriminates, or promotes or incites, discrimination, against another person, with manifestations in an offensive manner, on account of sex, race, color or national origin, or with actions to obstruct or impede, with motives relating to sex, race, color or national original, the exercise or enjoyment of rights of equality set forth in the Constitution. Any person who spreads ideas based on the superiority of races or racial hatred or commits, or incites, acts of violence against any race or group of people of another color or ethnic origin, shall be subject to the same punishment as indicated above. 

El Capítulo VI del Título 8 (Delitos contra la vida y la integridad física) describe las circunstancias bajo las cuales el aborto es ilegal y establece las sanciones por realizar abortos ilegales. En conformidad con el artículo 267 del Código Penal, cualquier persona que, sin cumplir con las normas de salud pública establecidas con respecto a los abortos, realice un aborto o destruya de cualquier modo el embrión, con el consentimiento de la mujer embarazada, está sujeta a una pena de prisión. Por tres meses hasta un año o una multa de 100 a 300 cuotas. Si se realiza un aborto (1) con fines de lucro, (2) fuera de las instituciones oficiales o (3) por una persona que es un médico, dicha persona está sujeta a un aumento de la pena de prisión de dos a cinco años. En conformidad con el Artículo 268, una persona que destruye a propósito el embrión (a) sin usar ninguna fuerza o violencia contra la mujer embarazada, pero sin su consentimiento, está sujeta de dos a cinco años de prisión o (b) con el uso de cualquier fuerza o violencia en la mujer embarazada, está sujeto de tres a ocho años de prisión. Si concurrentemente con la ocurrencia de (a) o (b), cualquiera de las circunstancias descritas en (1), (2) o (3) también existen, el castigo se incrementa a la prisión de cuatro a diez años. Si una mujer embarazada muere como resultado de cualquiera de las acciones anteriores, la persona ofensora está sujeta a prisión por un período de cinco a doce años. Los artículos 270 y 271, respectivamente, prescriben los castigos para aquellos que, sin la intención de hacerlo, causan un aborto y para aquellos que prescriben cualquier sustancia inductora del aborto para destruir el embrión.

El Capítulo I del Título XI cubre los delitos contra el desarrollo normal de las relaciones sexuales. El artículo 298 prescribe una pena de cuatro a diez años de prisión para toda persona que viole a una mujer (ya sea por coito vaginal o contra naturam) si durante el evento criminal ocurre alguna de las siguientes circunstancias: (a) uso de la fuerza o suficiente intimidación para: lograr la meta o (b) si la víctima está en un estado mentalmente perturbado o sufre de locura temporal, o si la víctima está privada de razón o sentido por cualquier razón, o no puede resistirse, o carece de la capacidad de entender las consecuencias de las acciones o para conformar su conducta. El artículo 298 prescribe un período de prisión de 7 a 15 años si (a) el evento se lleva a cabo con la participación de dos o más personas, (b) si el perpetrador se viste de uniforme militar o pretende ser un funcionario público, en en cada caso, para facilitar la consumación del acto o (c) si la víctima es mayor de 12 años y menor de 14 años. Finalmente, el artículo prescribe un período de prisión de 15 a 30 años o la pena de muerte si (a) el evento es llevado a cabo por una persona que ha sido sancionada previamente por el mismo delito, (b) como resultado del acto, la víctima sufre lesiones o enfermedades graves, o (c) si el autor sabe que está infectado con una enfermedad de transmisión sexual. Cualquier persona que viole a un menor de edad menor de 12 años será castigada con una pena de prisión de 15 a 30 años o con la pena de muerte, incluso si no ocurre ninguna de las circunstancias descritas en la oración anterior. El artículo 299 del Código Penal sanciona a las personas culpables de pedofilia "activa". Cualquier persona que cometa un acto de pedofilia "activa" mediante el uso de la violencia o la intimidación, o aprovechando el hecho de que la víctima está privada de razón o sentido o no puede resistir, será castigada con pena de prisión de siete a 15 años. Dicha penalización aumenta a 15 a 30 años o fallece si (a) la víctima es menor de 14 años, incluso si las circunstancias establecidas en la oración inmediatamente anterior no están presentes, (b) si, como consecuencia de la acto criminal, la víctima sufre lesiones graves o enfermedad o (c) si el autor ha sido previamente sancionado por el mismo delito.

El artículo 295 impone una pena de prisión de seis meses a dos años o una multa de 200 a 500 cuotas, o ambas, a cualquier persona que discrimine, promueva o incite a la discriminación de otra persona, con manifestaciones de manera ofensiva. , debido al sexo, raza, color u origen nacional, o con acciones para obstruir o impedir, con motivos relacionados con el sexo, raza, color u origen nacional, el ejercicio o disfrute de los derechos de igualdad establecidos en la Constitución. Cualquier persona que difunda ideas basadas en la superioridad de las razas o el odio racial o cometa, o incite, actos de violencia contra cualquier raza o grupo de personas de otro color u origen étnico, estará sujeta al mismo castigo que se indicó anteriormente.

Código de Trabajo (Labor Code - Law No. 116 of December 20, 2013) (2013)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Chapter 1 of Cuba’s Labor Code sets forth the basic principles of the Labor Code, with specific reference to providing women with positions that are compatible with their physical and physiological characteristics and allowing women to incorporate themselves in the workforce, and entitlements to maternity leave for women, before and after childbirth, including medical services, free of cost, required by maternity. Additionally, Chapter 8 of the Labor Code is devoted to promoting policies conducive to women’s labor, including requirements that (1) the workplace create and maintain labor and sanitary conditions that are adequate for the participation of women in the labor process (Section 2); (2) labor conditions are consistent with the physical and physiological characteristics of women, taking into account, inter alia, women’s elevated functions as mothers (Section 4); and (3) single mothers be provided with stipends to help them care for their children until they return to work (Section 4).

Republic of Cuba Constitution of 1976 (amended 2002; English) (1976)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Article 44 of Cuba’s Constitution states that women and men enjoy equal economic, political, cultural, social and familial rights and that Cuba (the “State”) “guarantees that women will be offered the same opportunities and possibilities as men to achieve their full participation in the development of the country.” Article 44 further states that the State grants working women paid maternity leave before and after childbirth, and temporary work options compatible with their maternal function.

Constitution of Belize (2011)

Gender discrimination

Section 3 of the Constitution of Belize (the “Constitution”) provides that every person in Belize is “entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual” regardless of sex.  Section 16 of the Constitution also prohibits any laws that are discriminatory or have discriminatory effect and defines “discriminatory” to include discrimination based on sex. 

Criminal Code (2000)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Forced and early marriage, LGBTIQ, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Belize Criminal Code defines and criminalizes rape, including marital rape (Sections 46, 71-74); carnal knowledge of female child (Section 47); procuring or attempting to procure a woman (Section 49-50); compulsion of marriage (Section 58); incest by males (Section 62); abortion, miscarriage, and child destruction (Sections 111-12, 127).  The Code mandates a minimum sentence of eight years for rape (Section 46), 12 years of carnal knowledge of a female child (Section 47), and a life sentence for habitual sex offenders (Section 48).

Of particular note:

Marital rape under Section 72 requires a showing that the spouses have separated, the marriage is dissolved, an order or injunction has been made, granted or undertaken against the spouse, or that the sexual intercourse was preceded or accompanied by assault and battery.  Lack of consent is not enough if the parties are married.  The Criminal Code also criminalizes same-sex relationships under Section 53, which criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal.”Abortion and the aiding of abortion are felonies and carry a prison term of 14 years to imprisonment for life under Section 111.  There are limited exceptions under Section 112 if two registered medical practitioners agree that the abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother or her family or if the child may be seriously handicapped.

Domestic Violence Act (2000)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

Belize enacted the Domestic Violence Act #19 in 2000 to provide greater protection and assistance to domestic violence victims.  It was enacted in recognition of the pervasive nature of domestic violence in Belize society in order to increase the resources available to deal with domestic violence cases.  The Domestic Violence Act defines domestic violence and governs protective orders, occupation orders, tenancy orders, other orders relating to counselling, the use of furniture and household effects, payment of rent, mortgage, utilities and compensation for any monetary loss due to domestic violence.  Where a protective order or interim protective order is violated, the individual violating the order may be liable to a fine of up to $5,000 or to imprisonment for up to six months.  (Section 21)

Married Persons (Protection) Act (2000)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

Under the Married Person (Protection) Act, a married woman can apply for an order that she is not “bound to cohabit with her husband,” for legal custody of children under the age 16, and for maintenance.  A married woman’s application for one of these orders must include either a husband’s assault on her of requisite seriousness, desertion, cruelty, willful neglect to provide maintenance, the husband is a “habitual drunkard,” the husband had a venereal disease and insisted on sex, the husband compelled her to prostitution, or adultery.  The same orders are available to a husband, but on more limited grounds: the wife is a “habitual drunkard,” cruelty, adultery, or desertion.  The Supreme Court may still make an order for the judicial separation of a husband and wife and for the payment of alimony, which is separate from the legal options available under this Act.

Protection Against Sexual Harassment Act (2003)

Sexual harassment

The Protection Against Sexual Harassment Act defines “unwelcome sexual advances,” outlines actionable forms of sexual harassment, and the process for filing a complaint with the court.  It is the court that may then carry out investigations and “may endeavor by such means as it considers reasonable to resolve a complaint.”  This Act also penalizes retribution and retaliation against complainants or witnesses, as well as false complaints.

Evidence Act (2000)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Section 74 of the Evidence Act governs “[r]estrictions on evidence at trials for rape.”  This section provides that when a man is being prosecuted for rape or attempted rape, the “sexual experience of a complainant with a person other than that defendant” is inadmissible.  The exception to this rule is if a judge is satisfied that it would be unfair to the defendant to refuse to allow the evidence.  Under Section 92(3), a judge has discretion to warn the jury of the “special need for caution” when the prosecution relies only on the testimony of the accuser where a person is “prosecuted for rape, attempted rape, carnal knowledge or any other sexual offence.”

Families and Children Act (2000)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

The Families and Children Act governs the rights of a child, legal capacity and disabilities of children, guardianship and custody of children, status of children, support of children by government, maintenance rights and duties of members of the family as between themselves, maintenance of persons in public institutions, maintenance during divorce, separation or nullity, parentage of children, care and protection of children, foster-care, approved children homes, adoption, and the establishment of the National Committee for Families and Children.

Domestic Case Law

The Queen v. Baptiste Supreme Court of Grenada and the West Indies Associated States (2013)

Sexual violence and rape

The defendant pled guilty to rape and holding a woman at knifepoint until she was able to fight him off and escape.  The defendant was before the court for sentencing.  The court began by observing that “over the past few years the courts have been disposed to sentence persons convicted of rape to terms of imprisonment of between 7-10 years.”  Here, the only mitigating factor was the defendant’s guilty plea.  The aggravating factors included physical and psychological harm, use of a weapon and violence, and prior convictions.  Considering these factors, the court sentenced the defendant to a term of eight years imprisonment.

Between S.A.J. and S.P.J. Supreme Court of Grenada and the West Indies Associated States (2014)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

In a pending divorce case, the trial court entered an order for the parties to “refrain from molesting, harassing, besetting, intimidating and/or threatening and carrying out physical or other abuse of the other.”  The wife subsequently accused the husband of sexual molestation and violating the court’s order.  The court explained that “an allegation of sexual molestation in any form is very serious and the onus is on the wife to prove to the Court beyond a reasonable doubt that the husband breached the Order by committing the acts of sexual molestation as alleged.”  The court held that the “wife has failed to discharge this burden” because:  (i) there was no evidence from any corroborating witness; (ii) there was no corroborating evidence from the doctor who examined the wife; (iii) both parties chose not to cross-examine the deponents who swore to the affidavits in the committal application; and (iv) “the husband’s version of the events on 5th March is equally plausible as the wife’s” version of events.

Thomas v. D. D. Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the Court of Appeal (2016)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

This was a domestic violence case where the male appellant was in a long-term relationship with the female respondent.  The appellant allegedly physically assaulted the respondent’s sister, accosted a second person, and threatened the lives of the members of the household with a cutlass.  The appellant denied these allegations.  The appellate issue was whether to overturn the trial judge’s injunction against the appellant, requiring him to refrain “from committing any acts of violence.”  The appellate court upheld the injunction, explaining that the injunction was “sensible” and “a person cannot complain of prejudice or inconvenience because he is restrained from committing acts of violence.” 

Regina v. Cadoo Supreme Court of Grenada and the West Indies Associated States (2017)

Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant pled guilty to rape and was before the court for sentencing.  Both victims were young girls between the ages of 14 and 15 at the time of the offense.  The defendant raped the victims multiple times, and one of the victims became pregnant as a result.  In sentencing the defendant, the court observed that there were several aggravating factors:  the victims were minors and the defendant was 16 years their senior; the defendant was a relative and a person of trust; after one of the victims became pregnant, she sought help from the defendant but defendant again sexually assaulted her; and the offense occurred while the defendant was on bail.  The only mitigating factor was the defendant’s guilty plea.  Accordingly, the court sentenced defendant to 10 years imprisonment.

Regina v. Richards Supreme Court of Grenada and the West Indies Associated States (2017)

Gender-based violence in general, Statutory rape or defilement

The defendant pled guilty to wounding and causing grievous harm to an adult female after dragging her into the bushes and attacking her with a piece of wood and cutlass, leaving deep lacerations and abrasions.  The defendant also pled guilty to the rape and robbery of a 16-year-old female, which occurred just two days later.  The defendant was before the court for sentencing.  Analyzing the aggravating factors, the court observed that defendant had a criminal history, was not remorseful, preferred violence, and presented a danger to the community.  The court also recognized that the victims were not only physically hurt, but had “been severely traumatized by their experiences.” The only mitigating factor was the guilty plea.  Accordingly, the court sentenced the defendant to 14 years and three months imprisonment. 

Resolución Nº 01439 - 2014, Expediente: 11-000056-0532-PE Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal II Circuito Judicial de San José (2014)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

The Court established that for a cause of action based on a threat against a woman to meet the justiciability criteria pursuant to article 27 of the Law of Criminalization of Violence against Women (Ley de Penalización de Violencia contra la Mujer), it is necessary that the conduct be executed in a context of a (1) marriage or of (2) factual union.

La Corte estableció que para que una causa de acción basada en una amenaza contra una mujer cumpla con los criterios de justiciabilidad, en conformidad con el artículo 27 de la Ley de Penalización de Violencia contra la Mujer, es necesario que la conducta se haya ejecutado en un contexto de (1) matrimonio o de (2) unión de hecho.

Resolución Nº 00355 - 2016, Expediente: 12-110068-0671-TP Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal: III Circuito Judicial de Alajuela en San Ramón (2016)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

The Court established a unified standard of the legal meaning of a “factual union” (unión de hecho). This term is used in the Law of Criminalization of Violence against Women (Ley de Penalización de Violencia contra la Mujer) and in the Family Code (Código de Familia). However, the definition is composed of different elements under each of these legislations. For example, in the Family Code’s definition, the requirement for the marital union to have lasted for a three-year term is considered unnecessary in order to protect the life, free will, physical integrity, and the woman’s dignity in a marriage or factual union. In the unified standard, the Court established that the necessary elements of a factual union are the following: (1) stability (which excludes periodic relationships); (2) publicity (which excludes furtive relationships); (3) cohabitation (which excludes superficial relationships); and (4) singularity (which excludes multiplicity). The Court recognized these elements and acknowledged that they were also recognized by the Convention of Belém do Pará, establishing that it is also considered domestic violence when the aggressor lives with the victim (cohabitation).

El Tribunal estableció una definición legal unificada del significado de una “unión de hecho.” Dicho término se utiliza en la Ley de Penalización de la Violencia contra la Mujer y en el Código de la Familia. Sin embargo, la definición se compone de diferentes elementos en cada una de estas legislaciones. Por ejemplo, en la definición del Código de la Familia, el requisito de que la unión matrimonial haya durado un período de tres años se considera innecesario para proteger la vida, el libre albedrío, la integridad física y la dignidad de la mujer en un matrimonio o en una unión de hecho. En la norma unificada, la Corte estableció que los elementos necesarios de una unión de hecho son los siguientes: (1) estabilidad (lo cual excluye las relaciones periódicas); (2) publicidad (lo cual excluye relaciones furtivas); (3) la cohabitación (lo cual excluye las relaciones superficiales); y (4) la singularidad (lo cual excluye la multiplicidad). La Corte reconoció estos elementos y reconoció que también fueron reconocidos por la Convención de Belém do Pará, estableciendo que también se considera violencia doméstica cuando el agresor vive con la víctima (convivencia).

Resolución Nº 00618 - 2018, Expediente: 12-021945-0042-PE Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal: II Circuito Judicial de San José (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, International law

The court emphasized that in order to prove a domestic violence cause of action, the plaintiff must prove that she has been subject to a behavior pattern that fits within the domestic violence cycle. Such behavior pattern consists of three stages: (1) the growing tension stage; (2) the acute aggression stage; and (3) the kindness or affection stage. The third stage is followed by the aggressor’s regret and then by the reconciliation, which in turns leads to another assault and then to the repetition of the cycle. This third stage is crucial in order to recognize whether there is a systematic situation of violence and to prove the elements of this cause of action.

La Corte enfatizó que para presentar con éxito una causa de acción legal por violencia doméstica, la demandante debe probar que ha estado sujeta a un patrón de comportamiento que se ajusta al ciclo de violencia doméstica. Dicho patrón de comportamiento consta de tres etapas: (1) la etapa de tensión creciente; (2) la etapa de agresión aguda; y (3) la etapa de bondad o afecto. A la tercera etapa le sigue el arrepentimiento del agresor y luego la reconciliación, que a su vez conduce a otro asalto y luego a la repetición del ciclo. Esta tercera etapa es crucial para reconocer si existe una situación sistemática de violencia y para probar todos los elementos que constituyen esta causa de acción.

Supaul v. Lalchand Supreme Court of Belize (2018)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The issues in the preliminary hearing for this case were (i) whether the parties were involved in a common law union and what the material dates of that union were and (ii) whether an agreement entered into between the parties barred the applicant from bringing her claim for maintenance and division of property.  The applicant alleged that the parties lived together as man and wife for eight years.  The respondent claimed the first two years involved a sexual relationship only and that they did not live as man and wife for the last four years of their relationship because the relationship was unstable.  He also contended that the parties had “more of a business relationship.”  Under Belize law, a “common law union” is a “relationship that is established when a man and woman who are not legally married to each other and to any other person cohabit together continuously as husband and wife for a period of at least five years.”   The court analyzed the evidence of the relationship and found the respondent’s evidence to be “lacking in credibility.”  The court found there to have been a common law union for eight years.

Vasquez v. Vasquez Supreme Court of Belize (2017)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

The petitioner applied to court for dissolution of marriage on the ground of respondent’s adultery, which was granted in 2010.  The petitioner then filed for maintenance for herself and their children as well as for other miscellaneous amounts for loans and medical expenses.  The court granted maintenance, which was being garnished from respondent’s salary.  The respondent contested the continuation of these payments.  Under Belize law, upon divorce the court has discretion to order a husband to pay maintenance to his former wife in an amount the court may think to be reasonable for the remainder of her life.  The court ordered a continuation of monthly maintenance payments based on the “practice that maintenance is generally awarded on the basis of one-third of the joint incomes of the parties, less the wife’s income” in order to “supply the former wife with the necessaries, comforts, and advantages incidental to her social position.”  The claims for loans and medical expenses were dismissed.

Roches v. Belize Agricultural Health Authority and Attorney General of Belize Supreme Court of Belize (2017)

Employment discrimination, International law, Sexual harassment

The claimant brought a claim of damages for unlawful termination of employment because she alleged she was terminated before her two-year contract had run despite a positive one-year evaluation.  She claimed her contract was not renewed because she made reports of sexual harassment by her supervisor to the police.  However, that report was made four months after the claimant was informed of the decision not to renew her contract.  The court also determined that her contract was a one-year contract.  As a result, her claim was dismissed.  However, the court “condemn[ed] in the strongest possible terms the exploitation and degradation of women by predatory male behavior in the workplace” and found that the respondent “has an obligation to not sweep these grave allegations under the rug.”  The court urged an investigation into the alleged conduct by claimant’s supervisor and for the respondent to “duly penalize such behavior if substantiated, in keeping with Belize’s national and international obligations to protect the rights of women and children from sexual exploitation under treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence and Discrimination Against Women.”

Attorney General of Belize v. Matus Supreme Court of Belize (2017)

Forced and early marriage

The Attorney-General of Belize brought a claim under Belize’s Civil Procedure Rules to declare the marriage between the respondent and a 16-year-old minor null and void under the Marriage Act because it was executed without the consent of the child’s father.  Section 5 of the Marriage Act requires the consent of both parents before a minor can marry.  The court granted the respondent’s application to dismiss the claim because the Attorney-General should have commenced the action by petition under the Matrimonial Causes Rules.

Flowers v. Jeffords Supreme Court of Belize (2018)

Property and inheritance rights

The claimant alleged that her common law husband passed away without a will.  His son, the defendant, attempted to evict her from the home she shared with the deceased prior to his death.  The claimant responded by bringing this administrative action to remove the son as the deceased’s personal representative and to be recognized as one of the lawful beneficiaries of the estate.  The son and the deceased’s other children from previous relationships alleged that the claimant was merely their father’s caretaker, but could provide no evidence she was ever paid and could not explain why she lived with their father prior to him falling ill.  Under Belize law, a common law union is defined as “an unmarried man and an unmarried woman, who share a mutual commitment publicly to live their life together as a couple and in fact do so for a continuous period of five years or more.”  The typical signs of such a union are that the parties “share the same household; the relationship is stable; there is financial support or the pooling of financial resources; there is a sexual relationship; there is public acknowledgement of the relationship and there may be children.”    The court analyzed all evidence presented on the nature of the claimant’s relationship with the deceased and held that the claimant was “the female party to a common-law union with [the deceased] up until the time of his death” and so she was a lawful beneficiary of the estate.

J.B. v. Landero Supreme Court of Belize (2018)

Forced sterilization

The claimant underwent an exploratory surgery at age 21 to assess the cause of abdominal pain associated with bleeding.  During that surgery the doctor removed her womb and left ovary without her consent or a second opinion.  The defendants accepted liability and the court was asked to assess damages for breach of duty and for pain and suffering.  Under Belize law, the court must restore the claimant to “the position in which she would have been, had it not been for the negligent act.”  The claimant’s psychologist explained the psychological impact on the claimant for her loss of “femaleness” and her struggles with “depression, guilt, and feelings of worthlessness.”  To quantify her damages, claimant referred the court to awards for infertility in a “woman with severe depression and anxiety” in Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases.  The claimant also pointed to a few foreign cases that quantified similar damages.  The defense urged the court to be cautious since these cases arose from jurisdictions “which do not share similar social, economic and industrial conditions to Belize.”  Defense counsel also attempted to distinguish the physical damage in the cases cited by claimant.  The court considered both the fact that claimant’s pecuniary prospects had not changed, as well as her loss of biological motherhood and the psychological damage from loss of her female reproductive organs, and awarded $250,000 in damages.

Longsworth v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2012)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The appellant threw an accelerant on her husband, followed by a lit candle.  She then immediately attempted to douse the flames in water.  Her husband died and she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  On appeal, the appellant attempted to introduce new evidence that she had suffered from Battered Women Syndrome (“BWS”).  This evidence was not available during the appellant’s trial because there were no qualified forensic psychiatrists available in Belize.  The Court of Appeal granted the appeal on the ground that (1) it was capable of belief; (2) it was relevant to the issues before the jury; (3) it would have been admissible at trial; (4) the trial attorney had been asked why no medical evidence was presented at trial; (5) the new evidence may have caused the jury to decide differently; (6) the evidence supports a defense of diminished responsibility and (7) it cast doubt as to the reasonableness of the verdict and admission of the evidence was in the interest of justice.  The court considered the findings of an experienced and distinguished professional in the field of forensic psychiatry who examined the appellant, interviewed witnesses, and reviewed trial documents and found that the appellant’s history and behavior was consistent with BWS.  The forensic psychiatrist concluded that the appellant had been physically, sexually, financially, and psychologically abused by her partner for nine years.  This abuse, together with the appellant’s response to the abuse, was found to be consistent with BWC.  The Court reduced the appellant’s sentence to eight years.  This case was the first time that a court in Belize admitted new evidence in relation to BWS and PTSD in connection with a defense of diminished responsibility. 

Meyers v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2017)

Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of carnal knowledge of a female child under the age of 14.  During trial the complainant claimed to not remember anything about the night in question or even where she lived, her mother’s occupation or place of work, or where her best friend lived.  When the complainant continued to “evince no desire to cooperate with prosecuting counsel” and stated her previous statement to the prosecution about the night in question was untrue, the trial court granted the prosecution permission to treat the complainant as a hostile witness.  However, the Court of Appeal faulted the trial court for the fact there is “no indication in the record that the judge took the steps dictated by long established practice in this jurisdiction to demonstrate that [the trial judge] formed, at the proper time, the opinion that [the complainant], being then a child of only 13 years, understood the nature of an oath.”  Given the importance of the sworn testimony of the complainant on the identification of the appellant, the court ordered a retrial and granted bail on the condition the appellant stayed away from the complainant and her family. 

Gabourel v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2017)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of grievous harm (was also charged but acquitted of rape) and was sentenced to a fine of $10,000 or in default a term of three years imprisonment, as well as being ordered to pay the complainant $3,000.  The appellant appealed, arguing that the trial judge erred in law by not giving a proper instruction to the jury on the issue of self-defense.  The Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction, finding “no miscarriage of justice,” where the jury “clearly accepted the version [of events] given by the complainant in relation to the offence of grievous harm, and rejected the version given by the appellant,” and a different self-defense instruction would not have changed the result.

Gutierrez v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2018)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was convicted of raping a 16-year-old female colleague and was sentenced to eight years in prison.  The Court of Appeal granted a retrial because the trial court had “erred in failing to give a proper/adequate direction to the jury.”  Under Section 92(3)(a) of Belize’s Evidence Act, a trial court has discretion to “warn the jury of the special need for caution” where the only evidence against a person charged with rape is the word of the victim.  Where a judge exercises such discretion, he or she must provide the reasons for cautioning the jury.  The trial judge did caution the jury in the case, but the Court of Appeal found he had erred by not warning the jury that the complainant had lied during her testimony and by not pointing out the complainant’s admission that she had been raped was made only after being threatened by her father.  The Court of Appeal also found that the trial judge should have warned the jury that the complainant “may have had some kind of relationship with the Appellant.”

Taylor v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2018)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of abduction and rape and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.  The complainant was kidnaped from a car, driven to a remote location, and raped multiple times by two men.  Upon arrival at the remote location, the police chased after the two men, but only caught and arrested one of the men – the appellant.  The complainant testified that the appellant wore a stocking mask, and although he had spoken to her many times the night of her kidnaping, she did not recognize him until his stockinged face was illuminated by a car light.  This identification was not made until a few days after the police arrested the appellant.  The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions because the trial judge did not direct the jury on issues related to voice identification in general or concerns related to the timing of complainant’s identification.  The Court of Appeals also faulted the prosecution for not conducting a controlled identification procedure to test the complainant’s ability to identify the appellant by the sound of his voice.  The Court did not however order a retrial because it found the evidence to be “insufficient to justify a conviction by any jury which had been properly directed” due to the “glaring evidential gaps”.  

Lawrence v. The Queen Court of Appeal of Belize (2018)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Femicide

The appellant was convicted of the murder of his romantic partner of eight years and was sentenced to life in prison.  On the night of the murder, the appellant first beat his partner in front of her three children. One of children called the police to report the beating, but the police failed to respond to the residence.  Following the beating, the appellant left the house, but returned an hour later, broke into the house, and stabbed his partner to death.  The appellant then drove his partner to the hospital where he was subsequently arrested. At the appellant' trial, testimony revealed that the appellant was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the killing and had a history of domestic violence. The first issue before the Court of Appeal was whether the trial judge gave adequate instructions on the potential for intoxication to be taken into account when deciding whether there was an intent to kill for the purposes of the appellant’s defense.  The Court of Appeal found that such instructions given by the trial judge were adequate.  The next issue decided by the Court of Appeal was whether new evidence from a forensic psychiatrist based on a single interview with the appellant regarding the appellant’s mental health necessitated a new trial.  The Court of Appeal found the new evidence to be less than credible, but exercised discretion to substitute the original conviction of murder to a conviction of manslaughter and reduced the appellant’s sentence to 18 years.  In reducing the sentence, the Court of Appeal began with the range of sentences for murder applicable a street fight (being 15 to 20 years), although acknowledged that the instant case differed in that it was a “vicious attack on an unarmed victim.”  Taking into account appellant’s diagnosis of schizophrenia, the Court of Appeal began with a 15-year sentence and then added three years to reflect the aggravating factors of “the choice of weapon, the number of stab wounds, the presence of the children and the previous violence he inflicted on the deceased about an hour before the fatal incident” to arrive at the 18 year sentence ordered.

Warren v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The applicant was convicted in the Circuit Court of Kingston for the offences of indecent assault, incest and assault. Later, a single judge granted leave to appeal and granted legal aid to the appellant. The prosecution conceded that the learned trial judge erred in imposing a sentence of 15 years imprisonment in respect of the incest charge, under the Child Care Protection Act of 2004, because the appellant was actually charged under the Incest (Punishment) Act, which establishes as maximum penalty for the crime is five years. As a consequence, the appeal against the sentence was allowed on the incest charge and this was set aside and substituted for five years imprisonment. The Court didn’t take into account, nor studied, the possibility of amending the indictment due to the specific circumstances and seriousness of the case, that is, the fact that the appellant sexually assaulted an underage girl on more than one occasion, and also, according to the evidence, threatened her to kill her if she made him go to prison.

Gregory v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Gender-based violence in general

The applicant was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for abduction and robbery with aggravation. In response to his first application for leave to appeal against conviction and sentence, the judge granted him leave to appeal to the sentence, but refused permission to appeal against conviction. The applicant renewed his application for leave to appeal against his conviction. The issue on appeal was whether the indictment erroneously citing the wrong statute warranted overturning the conviction. The offence of forcible abduction can be found in the section 17 of the Sexual Offences Act, and it was formerly an offence addressed in section 56 of the Offences Against Person Act. The latter was repealed when the Sexual Offences Act passed. Although the sections are not identically worded, they create the same offence of taking away a woman, against her will, with the intent of having sexual intercourse with her. The indictment in this case had incorrectly stated that the offence was in violation of section 56 (which had been repealed at that point). Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals decided that the error was not fatal to the conviction, as an amendment would have been permissible. This leads to the conclusion that as long as indictment errors are related to the form, and not the substance, then there is no prejudice to the appellants.

Hall v. R. Court of Appeal (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The appellant was charged for carnal abuse of a girl under the age of 12 years and buggery. On 20 April 2009, the appellant was convicted for carnal abuse (but not for buggery). On 9 November 2010 the appellant filed for leave against the conviction and the sentence. He argued in his appeal that the trial judge was obliged to give the jury a separate and distinct warning related to the dangers of convicting relying solely on the uncorroborated evidence from children (in addition to the warning she gave them in relation to the dangers of convicting relying solely on the uncorroborated evidence of complainants in sexual cases).  However, the Court decided that it’s entirely within the discretion of the trial judge to determine (taking into account the content and manner of the witness’ evidence, the circumstances of the case and the issues raised), whether to give any warning at all, and if so, in what terms. As a result, in exercising her discretion, the judge decided the girl’s age did not warrant a specific, separate warning other than the one given related to the danger of acting on uncorroborated evidence in a sexual case.

Blake v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The applicant pleaded guilty before the Circuit Court of Westmoreland for the offence of having sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16, in violation of section 10(1) of the Sexual Offences Act. He was in a serious relationship with the underage girl, but the matter was brought to the attention of the police when the complainant discovered she was pregnant and there was a dispute regarding the defendant’s paternity (tests showed he indeed was the father). He then argued that he was lured and tempted by the complainant, who would attend to his shop in revealing clothes and make sexual advances to him. The grounds for the defendant’s application was that the four-year sentence was manifestly excessive and that the judge was obliged to indicate, as a matter of law, the sentence that would have been imposed if the applicant had been convicted at trial and use that as a starting point for taking into account the fact that the applicant had plead guilty. In addition, his counsel highlighted as mitigating factors: the girl was just six months away from the age of consent and the sexual intercourse was consensual. His counsel also argued that the judge did not take into consideration the character and antecedents of the applicant, as well as the classic sentencing principles of retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation. However, the Court decided that, although the indication of a starting point for sentencing would have been desirable, they do not see the omission as being fatal to the reasoning underlying the sentencing. They also highlighted that it’s clear that Parliament has recognized this offence as a serious one, and their commitment against it. This case is particularly important because the Court stated that Jamaica has particular difficulties in dealing with offences involving young girls constantly being abused and exploited by older men, and that they have to get the message out that the children must be allowed to transition into adulthood without any molestation. Furthermore, the court stated that the pregnancy of the girl must not be taken as a mitigating factor, because that would send the message that a man who gets the girl pregnant is likely to be treated more favorably by the Court. Finally, the Court insisted that these pronouncements, in the context of the alarming local circumstances, should be guiding principles in sentencing these matters and cases.

Fletcher v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

On 29 July 2009, the applicant was convicted in the Home Circuit Court for rape of a 17-year-old girl. She claimed that he hauled her to the back of an abandoned house while asking her indecent questions and threatening her, and then proceeded to forcibly have sexual intercourse with her. He confirmed that they had had sexual intercourse in the yard of a building, but claimed they were in a long-term relationship. As to prove this, a witness testified that the applicant introduced the complainant to her as his girlfriend. However, her testimony was contradictory and unclear. His application for leave to appeal was heard and refused by a single judge of the Supreme Court of Criminal Appeal. He then renewed application for leave to appeal, arguing that the learned trial judge failed to adequately address questions raised by the jury during their deliberations, only giving them broad and general directions concerning their role and legal duty. His application for leave to appeal was again refused by the full Court. The application was denied because the court determined that the lower court made an accurate comparison of precedents offered, and that the trial judge’s jury direction was appropriate and within the acceptable parameters of what has become known as the Watson direction (as established by the English Court of appeal in the case R v. Watson). The judge was found to have avoided giving the jury any hint of pressure, correctly advised them to apply both their individual and collective experiences, and urged them to share their perspectives, but also to be willing to adapt to the other’s view if they agreed.

Squire v. R. Court of Appeal (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

On 24 May 2013, the applicant was found guilty of the abduction and rape of a 14-year-old girl. He had a good relationship with the parents of the girl and thus was a trustworthy person to her. The applicant’s first appeal application was denied. He renewed his application and the Supreme Court of Criminal Appeal granted the application. This time his conviction was quashed, the sentences were set aside, and the Court ordered a new trial at the next sitting of the Circuit Court. The applicant criticized the quality of the representation given by his counsel at the trial, arguing that his attorney did not provide an adequate defense and did not take full instructions from him. The attorney defending the applicant at the first trial argued that the applicant was properly defended, that the prosecutor also submitted that the defense was adequate and that, as the case turned on the contest of credibility between the complainant and the applicant, the jury’s verdict would have been the same, regardless of any omission by the defense counsel at the trial. Despite the seriousness of the alleged crime, the Court held that the applicant was denied the substance of a fair trial and quashed the conviction, setting aside the sentences, without doing a balancing test between the rights of the 14-year-old girl who was a victim of a crime, and the sex offender’s due process rights.

Mougdiel S.M., Case No. APN-135-15 Tribunal de Sentencia de Ahuachapan (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This case is an appeal from a judgment by a lower court.  Judge Delmy Elizabeth Mejia Salazar found Alvin, a 27-year-old farmer originating from Concepcion de Ataco, guilty of attempted rape of a minor (11 years old) in violation of articles 159 and 172 of the El Salvadoran criminal code, and sentenced Alvin to seven years imprisonment.  In the underlying case, the victim testified that Alvin forced her into a crawling position, raped, and sodomized her.  On appeal, Alvin argued that the sentencing judge did not properly apply article 179 of the criminal code of procedure as the evidence presented by the forensic expert did not show any injuries in support of a finding of rape and/or sodomization.  On appeal, the court emphasized that the medical examination was conducted a month and a half after the attempted rape and sodomization, which provided sufficient time for any injuries to heal.  The court further stated that article 159 of the penal code does not require the use of violence and indicated that not every attempted violation will leave physical evidence (e.g., if the victim has a passive reaction to the aggression which does not result in the use of force).  Additionally, Alvin did not deny attempting to sexually assault the victim by putting her in a crawling position.  Thus, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling and sentence, which was shorter than the eight years imprisonment recommended by the relevant statute.

Alejandro G.D., Case No. 193-2013-2 Tribunal Segundo de Sentencia de San Salvador (2014)

Statutory rape or defilement

In April, 2013, the National Civil Police, a unit of the Computer Crime Investigation Group of the Central Investigation Division launched a search for pornography.  Chief inspector Jesus Perez Sanches instructed two investigative agents to perform a search when they observed five individuals, including Alejandro G.D., selling pornography on the street in a residential neighborhood.  Alejandro was showing to the public the pornographic images from the movie cases, including children accompanied by parents, students, and elderly individuals.  During the investigation, the agents found numerous DVDs including pornographic images on the movie cases.  Eleven of the 362 seized films referenced “child pornography” on the face of the movie cases and on the DVDs within the cases.  The investigators arrested the individuals, including Alejandro G.D. and seized all the pornographic paraphernalia.  Section 173 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that when a person produces, reproduces, distributes, publishes, imports, exports, offers, finances, sells, trades, or disseminates, in any form, images or uses the voice of a person under the age of eighteen, or a person that is incapacitated or mentally disabled, including computerized, audiovisual, virtual or other mediums of exhibiting sexual, erotic, real or simulated acts of a sexual nature, he or she shall be punished with 6-12 years of imprisonment.  Pursuant to Article 417, the court has the authority to reduce the minimum sentence.  Accordingly, Alejandro was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for possession of and selling child pornography.

F.A.P.A., Case No. 191-09-2016 Tribunal de Sentencia de Chalatenango (2016)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

F.A.P.A., the defendant, was a 54-year-old unmarried Salvadoran farmer residing in La Reina, El Salvador. At the time of the allegations giving rise to the case, he was receiving treatment for epilepsy.  An evening, F.A.P.A. visited his niece.  F.A.P.A. and his niece, a minor, were sitting on a couch watching television when his niece’s mother left the room to attend to her other children.  During that time, F.A.P.A. engaged in sexual behavior with his niece against her will by touching her genitals and kissing her in the mouth.  F.A.P.A. was subsequently arrested by Salvadoran police officers for sexually harassing his niece.  F.A.P.A. later confessed to these underlying facts.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code states a person is liable for sexual harassment when that person (1) engages in sexual behavior involving phrases, touching , signs, or other unequivocal conduct of a sexual nature or content, (2) the action is undesired by the person who receives it, (3) the action does not constitute a more serious sexual offence, (4) in the case of a person of legal age, the action is repeated, and (5) the action is intentional.  The court found that F.A.P.A.’s confession of intentionally touching his niece’s genitals and kissing her against her will satisfies the elements of sexual harassment.  Although F.A.P.A. was being treated for epilepsy, the court found that he was capable of distinguishing right from wrong and acted consciously.  The court found F.A.P.A. guilty of sexual harassment punishable by two years imprisonment.  However, in lieu of the prison sentence, the court exercised its discretion under articles 77 and 79 of the Penal Code and sentenced F.A.P.A. to two years of probation with the following restrictions: (1) prohibition from leaving the country; (2) prohibition from approaching the victim or her family; (3) prohibition from ingesting intoxicating drinks; and (4) will be under probationary surveillance.

Luis Alonso G.P., Case No. 145-2016-3 Tribunal Segundo de Sentencia de San Salvador (2017)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

In May 2015, a girl purchased bread from Defendant Luis Alonso, a 50-year-old baker, at his home.  While the girl was at Luis’ home, Luis physically attacked her and stated that he would “rape her.”  Although Luis did not carry out his threat, he threatened the girl that if she reported him, she would pay and that he would continue to harass her and physically assault her every time he saw her on the street.  In February, 2016, the girl was approached by Luis in a small town in Ciudad Delgado and was afraid that Luis would sexually assault her again so she reported the previous events to patrolling officers.  The patrolling officers arrested Luis for sexual harassment.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for sexual harassment—punishable by three to five years imprisonment—when that person engages in unwanted sexual conduct involving phrases, touching, signs or other unequivocal sexual conduct that does not in itself constitute a more serious offense.  The court found that the defendant Luis Alonso sexually harassed the girl in violation of article 165.  The court replaced the three-year prison sentence with 144 days of community service and ordered that Luis pays the victim a civil penalty of $300.

Juan Carlos F.G., Case No. 18-2016-3 Tribunal Segundo de Sentencia de San Salvador (2017)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Defendant Juan Carlos, a member of a gang known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS), was arrested for sexually harassing and detaining a 16-year-old girl.  The victim was waiting for a bus an early afternoon when the defendant snatched her bag, attempted to kiss her, grabbed her by the neck, and forced her into a restaurant.  When the victim attempted to run away, the defendant pursued her and forcibly took her into a house where the defendant detained her in a room.  An anonymous individual in the neighborhood informed the police that the defendant was holding a girl captive.  Police officers entered the house and arrested the defendant.  Section 165 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code  provides that a person is liable for sexual harassment when that person engages in unwanted sexual conduct involving phrases, touching, signs or other unequivocal sexual conduct that does not in itself constitute a more serious offense.  Sexual harassment is punishable by three to five years of imprisonment.  Section 165 further provides that sexual harassment against a child under the age of 15 is punishable by eight years imprisonment.  Additionally, Section 148 of the El Salvadoran Penal Code provides that a person is liable for deprivation of freedom when that person deprives another of his or her individual liberty.  The crime of deprivation of freedom is punishable by three to six years imprisonment. The court found that the defendant sexually harassed the victim in violation of article 165 and deprived the victim of her freedom in violation of article 148.  Because the defendant performed multiple crimes, he was sentenced to 10 years 8 months of imprisonment. Three years of this sentence are attributable to sexual harassment, five years attributable to deprivation of freedom, increased by 1/3 for depriving a minor under the age of 18 of her liberty.  

TC/0003/17 Constitutional Court (2017)

Femicide, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, International law, Sexual violence and rape

Due to the increase of femicide crimes in the Dominican society, the Constitutional Court proclaimed the termination of violence against women in all its forms as it is a violation of the Constitution. The proclamation was made in commemoration of the murder of Mirabal, Minerva, Patria and María Teresa, political opponents of the regime of Rafael Trujillo, and in accordance with the international agreements executed in defense of women's rights, as well as the laws issued against gender violence, sexual violence and femicide. 


Debido al aumento de los delitos de femicidio en la sociedad dominicana, el Tribunal Constitucional proclamó el cese de la violencia contra la mujer en todas sus formas, incluyéndolo como una forma de violación de la Constitución. Dicha proclamación se realizó en conmemoración del asesinato de Mirabal, Minerva, Patria, y María Teresa, quienes fueron opositores políticos del régimen de Rafael Trujillo. La proclamación está en conformidad con los acuerdos internacionales celebrados en defensa de los derechos de las mujeres y con las leyes emitidas contra la violencia basada en género sexual, violencia sexual en sí, y femicidio.

Sentencia TC/0599/15 Constitutional Court (2015)

Abortion and reproductive health rights

The foundations “Justicia y Transparencia”, “Transparencia y Democracia” and “Matrimonio Feliz” challenged the constitutionality of Articles 107, 108, 109 and 110 of the Criminal Code Law 550-14. Law 550-14 regulates abortion, including the adjudication of cases of exoneration from criminal liability such as the interruption of pregnancy based on the crimes of rape, incest or malformations of the embryo that may endanger life. The foundations alleged the violation of, among others, Articles 101, 102, 105 and 112 of the Constitution that provide for the process of enacting organic laws (defined as those that regulate fundamental rights), and the violation of Article 37 that provides the inviolability of the right to life from the conception to death. The Criminal Code was approved by a simple majority. However, as it restricts fundamental rights such as the right to freedom, it must be considered as an organic law and therefore, had to be approved by a two-thirds majority. Additionally, only one of the chambers reviewed the executive authority’s observations before the law was approved. Likewise, the foundations argued that admitting exemptions from criminal liability to those who perform abortions was contrary to the Constitution which protects life from conception. The Constitutional Court admitted the action and ruled that Law 550-14 was unconstitutional because it created a new Criminal Code without following the due process necessary for its promulgation. 

Las fundaciones “Justicia y Transparencia”, “Transparencia y Democracia” y “Matrimonio Feliz” desafiaron la constitucionalidad de los artículos 107, 108, 109 y 110 de la Ley 550-14 del Código Penal. La Ley 550-14 regula el aborto, incluyendo el fallo de casos que tratan con la absolución de responsabilidad penal, como la interrupción del embarazo por delitos de violación, incesto, u otras malformaciones del embrión que pueden poner en peligro la vida de la madre y del feto. Específicamente, las fundaciones alegaron la violación de, entre otros, los artículos 101, 102, 105 y 112 de la Constitución, los cuáles contemplan el proceso de promulgación de leyes orgánicas (definidas como aquellas que regulan los derechos fundamentales), y además la violación del artículo 37, el cual establece como inviolable el derecho a la vida desde la concepción hasta la muerte. El Código Penal fue aprobado por la mayoría. Sin embargo, como restringe derechos fundamentales como el derecho a la libertad, el Código clasifica como una ley orgánica y, por lo tanto, debe ser aprobada por una mayoría de dos tercios. Además, sólo una de las cámaras tribunales revisó las observaciones dadas por la autoridad ejecutiva antes de que se aprobara la ley. Las fundaciones argumentaron que abstener de responsabilidad penal a quienes realizan abortos era contrario a la Constitución, la cuál protege la vida desde la concepción. La Corte permitió la acción a proceder y declaró que la Ley 550-14 en violación de la Constitucion en base a que creó un nuevo Código Penal sin seguir el procedimiento necesario para su promulgación inicial. 

Sentencia TC/0070/15 Constitutional Court (2015)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination

Mrs. Angela Merici Mendoza Minier challenged the constitutionality of Article 35 of Law number 1306-Bis published on May 21st, 1937, which provided that a divorced woman could not marry within 10 months after the divorce. Mrs. Angela argued that Article 35 contravened the gender equality provision provided in Article 39 of the Constitution because the 10-month waiting period to remarry did not apply to men. Article 35 thus conferred a privilege only to men. The attorney-general disregarded the action on the basis that the petitioner lacked legitimate interest. However, the Constitutional Court determined that as a woman, Mrs. Angela could be affected by Article 35 and ruled that she therefore had a legitimate interest in challenging Article 35. The Constitutional Court subsequently admitted the action and nullified Article 35 on the basis that it no longer fulfilled its aim to prevent a woman from remarrying when already pregnant with her former husband’s child because it could have negative consequences for the child or the newly formed couple. As technology now allows women to know their state of pregnancy at an early stage, the restriction is no longer needed. Moreover, the Constitutional Court acknowledged that it is a woman’s decision to remarry, pregnant or not. 

La Sra. Angela Merici Mendoza Minier desafió la constitucionalidad del artículo 35 de la Ley número 1306-Bis publicada el 21 de mayo de 1937, la cuál establecía que una mujer divorciada no podría casarse por un período de 10 meses posteriormente a un divorcio. La Sra. Angela sostuvo que el artículo 35 era contrario a la disposición de igualdad de género garantizada en el artículo 39 de la Constitución porque el período de espera de 10 meses para volver a casarse no se aplicaba a los hombres. Ella propuso que el artículo 35 confería un privilegio único a los hombres. El fiscal general ignoró la acción basándose en que la peticionaria no tenía un interés legítimo en la acción. Sin embargo, el Tribunal Constitucional determinó que, como mujer, la Sra. Angela podría verse afectada por el artículo 35 y dictaminó que, por lo tanto, esto era un interés legítimo suficiente para impugnar el artículo 35. Posteriormente, el Tribunal Constitucional admitió la acción y anuló el artículo 35 sobre la base de que no cumplía su objetivo inicial de evitar que una mujer se volviera a casar mientras ya estaba embarazada con el hijo de su ex esposo, lo cual podría tener consecuencias negativas para el niño o para la pareja recién formada. Como la tecnología ahora permite a las mujeres conocer su estado de embarazo desde una etapa temprana, dicha restricción ya no es necesaria. Además, el Tribunal Constitucional agregó que es una decisión personal de la mujer volver a casarse, embarazada o no.

The cases against Daniel Martinez, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip and Lieutenant Carlos Carías First Tribunal of Criminal Sentencing, Narco-trafficking and Crimes against the Environment (2011)

Gender violence in conflict

The cases against Daniel Martinez, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip and Lieutenant Carlos Carías, First Tribunal of Criminal Sentencing, Narco-trafficking and Crimes against the Environment (Tribunal Primero de Sentencia Penal, Narcoactividad y Delitos contra el Ambiente de Guatemala, 2011. Crimes against humanity, genocide. In 2009, following the decision in the case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre, the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the State to continue cases against those involved is the massacres perpetrated during Guatemala’s civil war. A case was brought against Daniel Martinez, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip and Lieutenant Carlos Carías in the First Tribunal of Criminal Sentencing, Narco-trafficking and Crimes against the Environment in Guatemala. The accused were sentenced to 6,060 years in prison for crimes against humanity, including sexual violations, and the murder of 201 locals from Dos Erres, of which they will each serve the maximum of 50 years. The conviction of four members of Guatemalan Special Forces was a step towards fulfilling the requirements imposed by the Inter-American Court to end impunity in Guatemala. Another Guatemalan ex-Soldier, Pedro Pimental Rios, was sentenced to 6,060 years by a three judge panel after being extradited from the United States just months later on March 12, 2012. He will also serve the maximum sentence in Guatemala, 50 years.


Los casos son contra Daniel Martínez, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip, y el teniente Carlos Carías, Primer Tribunal de Sentencias Penales, Narco-Tráfico y Delitos contra el Medio Ambiente (Tribunal Primero de Sentencia Penal, Narcoactividad y Delitos contra el Ambiente de Guatemala, 2011). Los crímenes alegados son humanitarios y de genocidio. En 2009, tras la decisión en el caso de la Masacre de "Las dos Erres", la Corte Suprema de Justicia ordenó al Estado que continuara los casos contra los involucrados, en la masacre perpetrada durante la guerra civil de Guatemala. Los casos fueron traídos contra Daniel Martínez, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip, y el teniente Carlos Carías en el Primer Tribunal de Sentencias Penales, Narco-Tráfico y Crímenes contra el Medio Ambiente en Guatemala. Los acusados fueron sentenciados a 6,060 años de prisión por los crímenes humanitarios, incluyendo violaciones sexuales, y el asesinato de 201 lugareños de Dos Erres, de los cuales cada uno servirá el máximo de 50 años. La noción de cuatro miembros de las Fuerzas Especiales de Guatemala fue un paso hacia el cumplimiento de los requisitos impuestos por la Corte Interamericana para poner fin a la impunidad en Guatemala. Otro ex soldado guatemalteco, Pedro Pimental Rios, fue condenado a 6,060 años por un panel de tres jueces luego de ser extraditado de los Estados Unidos unos meses después, el 12 de marzo de 2012. Él también cumplirá la pena máxima en Guatemala, 50 años.

Robert Rowe v. R Court of Appeals of Jamaica (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

A 13 year old female complainant was raped in the home of the male defendant, where the complainant was a regular visitor. Despite rejecting the defendant’s monetary compensation to remain silent, the complainant did not disclose the incident until two weeks later when a third party noticed that she appeared to be depressed. At trial, the defendant was convicted by a jury for the offences of rape and indecent assault for which he was sentenced to 12 years and 2 years imprisonment, respectively, to be served concurrently. The jury had been instructed to base its decision on the credibility of the witnesses. On appeal, the defendant argued, inter alia, that there was a presumption of doubt on which the trial judge ought to have instructed the jury regarding the complainant’s credibility. According to the defendant, the complainant had several opportunities to promptly speak to a third party after the incident but did not do so, which should have called the truth of her testimony into question. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal because it was in the jury’s discretion whether to believe the complainant. Moreover, the Court, in dictum, noted that it is established that many victims of sexual crimes remain silent for a considerable length of time before making disclosures to third parties, and notwithstanding the lapse of time, the perpetrators of these crimes have nevertheless acknowledged the truth of the allegations made against them.

Jerome Arscott v. R Court of Appeals of Jamaica (2014)

Sexual violence and rape

A young woman was sexually assaulted by a male police officer who encountered the woman while he was picking fruit behind her house. The officer followed the woman into her home, where he exposed his genitals and attempted to penetrate the woman’s vagina despite her resistance. Afterwards, the woman successfully identified him in an identification parade and he was subsequently charged with the offences of assault with intent to rape and indecent assault, for which he was convicted at trial and sentenced to nine months hard labor imprisonment. At sentencing, the trial judge found that the aggravating nature of the sexual offence outweighed the defendant’s mitigating circumstances, such as his status as a police officer. The officer appealed the sentence on the ground, inter alia, that his sentence was manifestly excessive and ought to have been non-custodial. The Court of Appeal dismissed the officer’s appeal because it agreed with the trial judge’s balancing approach, and noted that the maximum penalty that could have been imposed was three years of hard labor imprisonment. Moreover, the Court agreed with the trial judge’s statement that to a impose a non-custodial sentence for a case of sexual assault against a woman would send a wrong signal to both members of the police force and the general population in a society, such as Jamaica, where gender-based violence is prevalent.

R v. Noel Campbell, Robert Levy Court of Appeals of Jamaica (2007)

Sexual violence and rape

While walking on the sidewalk on her way to work, a young woman was forced into a gully where she was raped and robbed at gunpoint by two men in the early hours of the morning. At trial, the two men were convicted after the woman had seen and recognized both defendants out in public after the rape and subsequently reported them to the police. The defendants appealed the conviction on the grounds that, inter alia, the trial judge had failed to adequately warn the jury of the dangers of relying on uncorroborated evidence in rape cases and also that the trial judge had failed to adequately assess the woman’s identification evidence. The Court rejected the appeal, citing precedent that, in sexual assault cases, where the only defense is mistaken identity and the court is satisfied with the complainant’s identification, traditional sexual assault warnings regarding corroborated evidence need not be given to the jury.

Campbell (Peter) v. R Court of Appeals of Jamaica (2008)

Sexual violence and rape

While taking a taxi to school, a 13-year-old girl was forcibly raped by the taxi driver, whom she had previously encountered. After learning about the incident, the girl’s mother reported the driver to the police and he was subsequently convicted at trial for rape and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment at hard labor. At trial, the driver’s defense was one of alibi—a denial of his involvement in the offence. When instructing the jury on the definition of rape, the trial judge omitted a discussion on the element of intent to rape, which would have required the jury to find that the defendant intended to have sexual intercourse with the girl without her consent. On appeal, the driver argued, inter alia, that this omission of an element of rape from the jury instructions rendered his conviction unsatisfactory. However, the Court rejected this argument because the driver’s defense did not challenge whether the girl had consented to the intercourse, instead he argued that he had no intercourse with the complainant. According to the Court, the question of intent to rape is only relevant in cases where there is an issue as to whether or not the complainant had consented, and thus because the driver’s defense was one of alibi, and not consent, the Court concluded that it was not necessary for the trial judge to provide an expanded definition of rape.

Richard Barrett v. R Court of Appeals of Jamaica (2009)

Sexual violence and rape

A 16-year-old girl was walking home from school when a man drew a gun on her, forced her into his home and raped her. At trial, the judge—acting as trier of fact—found the man guilty of illegal possession of a firearm and rape. Because the incident was not corroborated, the judge characterized the case as an issue of credibility. The defense attempted to discredit the girl’s credibility by pointing to discrepancies between her testimony in court and her original statements to the police. While the trial judge had acknowledged that the testimony was inconsistent, the judge also acknowledged that the girl’s rape was a traumatic experience and thus her statements to the police were given under exceptional circumstances. The Court agreed with the lower court that discrepancies are to be expected in cases of this nature and so long as they are minor discrepancies, the witness may still remain credible.

Expediente 12-000123-1283-PE Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal. Segundo Circuito Judicial de San José (2013)

Sexual violence and rape

The prosecutor is appealing a ruling of not guilty in a sexual abuse case. The not guilty ruling had been based largely on inconsistencies between the initial testimony of the victim and her testimony at trial. This court found that, because the victim was not provided appropriate and comfortable conditions to give oral testimony (she was made to testify in front of a public audience and with the defendant in view), her testimony entailed a re-victimization, which influenced her ability to provide complete and accurate facts. On this basis, the court remands the case to be re-heard at the lower court.

El fiscal apela la determinación "no culpable" en un caso de asalto sexual. La decisión de la corte fue basada en gran parte en inconsistencias entre el testimonio inicial de la víctima y su segunda declaración en el juicio. La corte concluyó que como la víctima no tuvo las condiciones apropiadas para dar testimonio oral (la obligaron a testificar en frente de una audiencia pública que además incluía al acusado), su testimonio en sí representaba una forma de revictimización, lo cúal influenció su abilidad de relatar los hechos con exactitud. Basado en esto, la corte remanda el caso para que sea procesado de nuevo en el tribunal de primera instancia.

Expediente 04-001375-0166-LA Sala Segunda de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2008)

Sexual harassment

This case relates to sexual harassment in the workplace. The relevant facts are as follows. The victim was a receptionist at her company, and experienced sexual harassment by her superior, as evidenced by lascivious emails he sent her. She reported the harassment to supervisors, who suggested that they work together to find a solution, which resulted in the employer suggesting that she resign. The victim resigned and the harasser was sanctioned with three days docked pay. The court found that the employer did not respond to the sexual harassment appropriately, resulting in the victim’s continued harassment and eventual loss of employment. The court notes that employers and supervisors have an obligation to maintain good working conditions for their employees, including preventing sexual harassment. Pursuant to this obligation, employers and supervisors must: (1) communicate to all employees about relevant policies, (2) establish procedures to guarantee the effectiveness of such policies and (3) protect any whistleblowers (including victims) with respect to sexual harassment. The court also notes that sexual harassment is a form of sexual violence and a form of discrimination because it denies victims of their fundamental human rights of freedom, respect, physical, sexual and emotional integrity, the right to work in a safe environment and equality under the law.

Este caso aborda acoso sexual en el centro de trabajo. Los hechos relevantes son los siguientes: la víctima era una recepcionista y sufrió acoso sexual de un superior evidenciado con correos electrónicos lascivos que ella recibió. Ella reportó el acoso a sus superiores, quienes acordaron en trabajar juntos para solucionar el problema. El empleador sugirió que la víctima resignara. Ella resignó su posición mientras que el acusado solo fue suspendido sin salario por 3 días. La corte concluyó que el empleador no respondió apropiadamente con respecto a la queja de acoso sexual, pues el resultado para la víctima después de haber traído el asunto a su atención, fue el continuo acoso y eventualmente la pérdida de su trabajo. La corte especifica que los empleadores y supervisores tienen una obligación continua de mantener buenas condiciones de trabajo para sus empleados, lo cual incluye prevenir el acoso sexual. Con respecto a esta obligación, los empleadores y supervisores tienen que: (1) comunicar esta política a todos los empleados, (2) establecer procedimientos que garanticen la efectividad de dichas políticas, y (3) proteger a los informantes, incluyendo la propia víctima, con respecto al acoso sexual. La corte también agrega que el acoso sexual es en sí una forma de violencia sexual y de discriminación porque le niega a las víctimas sus derechos fundamentales de libertad, respeto, integridad física, sexual, y emocional, así como el derecho de trabajar en un ambiente seguro y bajo igualdad legal.

Expediente 12-0001488-0396-PE Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia Penal. Segundo Circuito Judicial de Guanacaste, Santa Cruz (2013)

Gender-based violence in general

The public ministry is appealing a previous ruling, which found the defendant not guilty of violating an order or protection that prohibited the defendant from, among other things, nearing or entering the home, place of work or place of study of the complainant. Police found the defendant approximately one or two meters from the complainant’s home, armed with a knife. He had broken down the front door and forcibly entered the home. The judge in the previous ruling found the defendant not guilty of violating the order of protection because the facts alleged by the public ministry had not been sufficiently demonstrated. The court also found that the protective order was vague (e.g., what does “near” the house mean?) and that it had not been demonstrated that the defendant was at the victim’s home without her consent. The victim declined to testify. This court overturns the ruling and remands the case to the lower court. The judge found that the investigation was deficient and the public investigators should have looked to other evidence notwithstanding the victim’s refusal to testify), including the fact that the victim called authorities for help and that the door to the house had been broken. The principle of reasonableness should govern, and here, there was clearly a violation of the intent of the protective order. The judge notes that while protective orders do limit rights of the individual subject to the order, their purpose is to provide equal rights to the protected individual. These limitations on the accused’s rights, while important, are less important than the ultimate goal of protecting the other person(s). The goal of public officials should be to provide tools to individuals so that they can enjoy their constitutional and human rights, including equality. In examining these cases, judges should look at the core purpose of the protective order and determine whether the order has been violated, and here, the facts were sufficient to show such a violation. In his discussion, the judge cites the Intra-American Convention to Prevent Violence Against Women, which requires that states take all appropriate measures with respect to legislation, judicial practices and common law in order to prevent violence against women and to establish judicial and administrative procedures for this purpose.

El Ministerio Público inicia esta apelación a una orden de la corte inferior la cual declaró al acusado “no culpable” de violar una Orden que le prohibía estar cerca o entrar a la casa, centro de trabajo, o de estudio, de la litigante. La policia encontró al acusado a unos 2 metros de la casa de la víctima y armado con un cuchillo. El había forzado la puerta del frente y se había adentrado en el hogar. El juez de la corte inferior encontró que estos actos no sumaban a culpabilidad por las siguientes razones: (1) la evidencia no fue específicamente demostrada; (2) la redacción de la Orden se determinó “vaga” porque no especificaba los metros de distancia que no eran permitidos, incluyendo la frase poco específica “cerca de la casa;” (3) no se demostró que el acusado estaba adentro de la casa sin el consentimiento de la litigante; y (4) la litigante se negó a testificar frente a la corte. Nosotros anulamos dichas conclusiones y remendamos el caso en busca de más evidencia. La investigación fue deficiente desde el inicio. Los investigadores públicos debieron haber buscado y presentado mas información—por ejemplo el hecho de que la víctima llamó a la policia diciendo que alguien había forzado la puerta del frente. El principio legal de justicia gobierna este caso. Aunque la Orden no incluya palabras especificas y en efecto limite los derechos del acusado, la conclusión de la corte inferior viola su intento. El propósito de esas órdenes es proveer derechos al protegido. Por lo tanto, cualquier limitación en los derechos del acusado resultan inferiores al objetivo principal protector. La meta de los oficiales públicos debe concentrarse en asegurar que todos los individuos disfruten sus derechos constitucionales, incluyendo la igualdad. Cuando casos similares se presentan ante la corte, los jueces deben concentrarse en analizar el objetivo principal de la Orden protectora. Entonces, en vista a ese hallazgo, determinar si ha sido violada. En este caso hay hechos suficientes demostrando tal violación. En la discusión mencionada, el juez cita datos de la Convención Intro-Americana para prevenir la violencia contra la mujer (Intra-American Convention to Prevent Violence Against Women). Esta Convención require que los estados, tomen toda medida posible con respecto a la legislatura, prácticas judiciales, y ley escrita en vistas a prevenir cualquier violencia contra las mujeres y además establecer los procedimientos judiciales y administrativos pertinentes en vistas a lograr este propósito.

Expediente 07-200123-0306-PE Tribunal de Apelación de Sentencia del Tercer Circuito Judicial de Alajuela, Sección Tercera (2013)

Sexual violence and rape

The public defender is appealing a conviction of sexual assault on behalf of his client. The appeal argues that (1) the facts alleged are imprecise and ambiguous (e.g., how is it possible to restrain someone’s arms while touching them at the same time?) and (2) the sexual contact was consensual because there was no evidence of the victim’s fighting back, she didn’t scream for help, had no injuries or physical signs of assault. Given the alleged failure to show that the contact was not consensual, the public defender argues that a charge of sexual harassment would be more appropriate, since the defendant was the victim’s employer. The court rejected the appeal, stating that the burden is not on the victim to show physical or objective signs of nonconsent; rather, the burden is on the defendant to show that the victim consented, which he failed to do. The court notes that victims are not obligated to display certain actions or behaviors to prove they did not consent to sexual contact. The court also notes that it is important to analyze each case on an individual basis, and not to reinforce stereotypes regarding victims’ behaviors. The court also dismissed the argument regarding the imprecise nature of the facts presented at the initial proceeding on the basis that the incident occurred six years ago, when the victim was 18 years old.

El defensor público está apelando la convicción de asalto sexual de su cliente. La apelación propone que, (1) los hechos alegados son imprecisos y ambiguos (por ejemplo, ¿cómo es posible contener los brazos de alguien y tocarlos sexualmente al mismo tiempo?) y (2) el acto sexual fue consensual porque no hay evidencia de que la víctima se resistiera, gritara pidiendo ayuda, o tuviera lesiones u otras marcas físicas de asalto. Dado el fallo en mostrar que el acto no fue consensual, el defensor público propone que un cargo de acoso sexual sería más apropiado, ya que el acusado era el empleador de la víctima. La corte rechazó la apelación concluyendo que la carga legal de probar que hubo falta de consenso mútuo en el acto sexual, no está en la víctima. La carga probatoria cae en el acusado, quien tiene que mostrar que la víctima consintió al acto sexual, lo cuál él falló en demostrar. La corte agregó que las víctimas no están obligadas a mostrar actos específicos o ciertos comportamientos para demostrar que no consintieron al acto sexual. Es importante analizar cada caso individualmente y no intensificando estereotipos con respecto a los comportamientos esperados de una víctima. La corte también rechazó el argumento con respecto a la imprecisión de la evidencia física discutido en el procedimiento inicial referente a que los actos ocurrieron seis años atrás cuando la víctima tenía 18 años de edad.

Sentencia 09076, Expediente 02-006271-0007-CO Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2002)

Gender-based violence in general

Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of Articles 8, 9(a), 9(c), 10 and 19 of the University of Costa Rica's Regulation against Sexual Harassment, arguing that they were inconsistent with the Costa Rican Political Constitution, the American Convention on Human Rights and the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights. The Court rejected the Plaintiff's challenge, affirming the constitutionality of the provisions.

El demandante desafió la constitucionalidad de los artículos 8, 9 (a), 9 (c), 10 y 19 del Reglamento de la Universidad de Costa Rica contra el acoso sexual, discutiendo que estos eran incompatibles con la Constitución Política de Costa Rica, la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos y el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos. La Corte rechazó la impugnación del demandante, afirmando la constitucionalidad de las disposiciones.

Sentencia 10341, Expediente: 04-006937-0007-CO Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2004)

Gender discrimination

Plaintiff claimed that she was dismissed from her employment as a psychologist because she was pregnant, thereby violating her constitutional rights. The Court disagreed, finding that her position was of a temporary nature, her employer replaced her with a more qualified psychologist, and that plaintiff's dismissal was not based on her pregnancy.

La demandante discutió que fue despedida de su empleo de psicóloga porque estaba embarazada, lo cual es una violación de sus derechos constitucionales. La Corte no estuvo de acuerdo, al descubrir que su posición era de carácter temporal, su empleador la reemplazó con un psicólogo más calificado, y el despido de la demandante no se basó en su embarazo.

Sentencia 12142, Expediente 08-009174-0007-CO Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Plaintiff sued a local prosecutor's office, alleging he was illegally detained and held, arbitrarily violating his constitutional right to personal liberty. Plaintiff's wife had filed a complaint against him with at the prosecutor's office, alleging spousal abuse, although she did not ask that he be detained. Plaintiff was asked to report to the prosecutor's office, at which time he was detained without being given reason for his detention. The prosecutors' office argued that the plaintiff was only held for eight hours, well within the 24 hours a prosecutor is allowed to hold someone without bringing charges. The Court rejected Plaintiff's allegations, finding that the plaintiff's rights had not been violated because his arrest was based on a suspected violation of Article 22 of the Criminal Law against Violence toward Women. The Court emphasized that spousal abuse was a matter not only of individual concern, but of societal concern. 


El demandante demandó a la oficina del fiscal local, alegando que fue detenido y retenido ilegalmente, lo cual violaba de forma arbitraria su derecho constitucional a la libertad personal. Anteriormente, la esposa del demandante había presentado una denuncia contra él en la oficina del fiscal, alegando abuso conyugal, aunque ella no habia pedido que lo detuvieran. Se le citó al demandante en la oficina del fiscal, momento en el cual lo detuvieron sin que se le diera una razón para la detención. La oficina de los fiscales justificó que el demandante solo estuvo detenido durante ocho horas, dentro de las 24 horas en total en que se le permite a un fiscal detener a alguien sin presentar cargos. El Tribunal rechazó las alegaciones del demandante y determinó que no se habían violado sus derechos porque su arresto se basó en una presunta violación del artículo 22 de la Ley Penal contra la Violencia hacia las Mujeres. La Corte enfatizó que el abuso conyugal era un asunto no solo de preocupación individual, sino también de preocupación de la sociedad.

Sentencia 12224, Expediente 08-010638-0007-CO Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Defendant asked the Court to release him from a three-month "preventative" jail sentence he was serving for sexually, physically and emotionally abusing his wife. He argued that he no longer posed a danger to his wife, thus the "preventative" jail measure was unnecessary. The Court disagreed, holding that the threat the defendant posed to his wife had not ceased. 


El acusado solicitó la liberaracion de una sentencia de "prevención" de tres meses que estaba cumpliendo por abusar sexual, física, y emocionalmente de su esposa. Argumentó que ya no representaba un peligro para su esposa, por lo que la medida "preventiva" de la cárcel era innecesaria. El tribunal no estuvo de acuerdo, sosteniendo que la amenaza que el acusado representaba no había cesado.

Sentencia 14572, Expediente: 05-002606-0007-CO Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2005)

Gender discrimination

Plaintiff, a pregnant school teacher, asked the Court to order the General Director of Personnel of the Department of Public Schools to rehire her after her employment was not renewed when she became pregnant. Plaintiff had been employed in that position for six years. Plaintiff argued that failing to rehire her violated her right to employment stability and motherhood. The Court ordered the defendant to rehire the plaintiff and to provide her with paid maternity leave. 

La demandante es una maestra de escuela embarazada que solicitó a la corte que le ordene a la Directora General de Personal del Departamento de Escuelas Públicas que la vuelva a contratar, pues a la expiracion del contrato, este no fue renovado cuando quedó embarazada. La demandante había estado empleada en ese puesto durante seis años. Ella demandante argumentó que no revar su contrato violó su derecho a la estabilidad laboral y la maternidad. El tribunal ordenó a la Directora que volviera a contratar a la demandante y ademas le proporcionara una licencia de maternidad pagada.

Sentencia 15547, Expediente 08-009127-0007-CO Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2008)

Gender-based violence in general

Defendant in a criminal prosecution challenged the constitutionality of Articles 22, 25 and 27 of the Criminal Law Against Violence Toward Women, arguing that the law's vague language allowed for arrests and convictions to be made based on vague, non-specific allegations and was thereby inconsistent with the Costa Rican Political Constitution, the American Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Court held Article 22 and 25 to be unconstitutional, but upheld Article 27. The ruling had retroactive power.

El acusado en un proceso penal desafió la constitucionalidad de los artículos 22, 25 y 27 de la Ley Penal contra la Violencia contra las Mujeres, argumentando que el vago lenguaje de la ley permitía que se realizaran arrestos y condenas sobre la base de acusaciones vagas e inespecíficas, lo cual es inconsistente con la Constitución Política de Costa Rica, la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos y la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos. La Corte determino que los artículos 22 y 25 eran inconstitucionales, pero mantuvo el artículo 27. Fue decidiso que la determinacion tendría poder retroactivo.

Sentencia 17692, Expediente 08-015875-0007-CO Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Criminal defendant, who was arrested for violating a protective order his wife had against him (thereby violating Article 43 of the Criminal Law Against Violence Toward Women), asked the Court to release him from a two-month "preventive" jail sentence, given that his wife was dropping the charges against him. The Court refused to grant the request, saying that despite the wife's refusal to cooperate, the prosecutor had sufficient probable cause to keep the defendant under arrest. 

El condenado criminal fue arrestado por violar una orden de protección que su esposa tenía contra él (lo cual fue una violacion del artículo 43 de la Ley Penal contra la Violencia hacia las Mujeres). Él solicitó a la Corte que lo liberara de una sentencia de prisión "preventiva" de dos meses, dado que su esposa había retirado los cargos en su contra. El tribunal se negó a conceder dicha solicitud y agrego que, a pesar de que la esposa se negara a cooperar, el fiscal tenía causa suficiente para mantener al acusado bajo arresto.

Sentencia: 01383, Expediente: 06-011087-0007-CO Sala Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (2007)

Gender discrimination

The Court ordered defendant, a hospital, to rehire a pregnant worker who was fired one week after informing the hospital of her pregnancy. The Court reasoned that the short period of time between plaintiff's announcement and her firing established a causal relationship between her pregnancy and her firing, thereby violating plaintiff's constitutional right to remain employed while pregnant. 

El tribunal ordenó a un hospital, el cual estaba bajo demanda, que volviera a contratar a una trabajadora embarazada que fue despedida una semana después de informarle al hospital sobre su embarazo. La Corte razonó que el corto período de tiempo entre el anuncio de la demandante y su despido estableció una relación causal suficiente para probar que el despido era consecuencia del embarazo, en violacion de su derecho constitucional a permanecer empleada durante el embarazo.

Sentence of the Constitutional Court 936-95 Constitutional Court [Guatemala] (1996)

Gender discrimination

Court held that a criminal law that punished female adultery more severely than male adultery was unconstitutional, in violation of the idea of equality among persons, as well as equality between married people.

El tribunal sostuvo que una ley penal la cual castigaba el adulterio femenino más severamente que el adulterio masculino era inconstitucional y violaba la idea de igualdad entre las personas, así como la igualdad entre las personas casadas.

International Case Law

Case of María Eugenia Morales de Sierra v. Guatemala Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2001)

Gender discrimination

On February 22, 1995 petitioners, the Center for Justice and International Law and María Eugenia Morales de Sierra, brought a claim against the state of Guatemala alleging that certain articles of the Civil Code of the Republic of Guatemala contravened Articles 1(1), 2, 17 and 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The relevant articles of the Civil Code of the Republic of Guatemala conferred the power to represent the marital union to the husband, setting aside only exceptional instances when the wife might exercise this authority; imbued the husband with the right to administer marital property, again limiting the wife’s power to exceptional circumstances; delegated the duty to care for minor children and the home to women, permitting professional engagement outside the home only to the extent that it does not impede her primary role as a mother and homemaker; instilled in men the power to oppose their wife’s activities in court “as long as he provides for her and has justified reasons”; conferred upon men the authority to represent marital children in court and to administer their property; and prevented women from exercising certain forms of guardianship. The Guatemalan Court of Constitutionality upheld these laws using women’s protection and juridical certainty as justification. The Inter-American Court, however, held that these provisions in the Guatemalan Civil Code were not justifiable. The challenged Articles were found to violate the rights established under the American Convention and CEDAW. Articles 1(1), 2, 17 and 24 of the American Convention oblige the state to guarantee the rights enshrined in the Convention, to adopt legislative measures that protect those rights, to ensure gender equality within the institution of marriage and to ensure equal treatment before the law respectively. Articles 15 and 16 of CEDAW mandate that women have equal capacity in civil matters, especially those regarding contract and property rights, and that states take appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination related to marital and family matters. The Articles in the Guatemalan Code deprived María Eugenia Morales de Sierra, and all Guatemalan women, of their rights as guaranteed in the American Convention, preventing them from advocating for their legal interests, reinforcing antiquated notions of gender roles within marriage and perpetuating systemic disadvantages that women in Guatemala face. The Court ordered Guatemala to conform its Civil Code to meet the standards enshrined in the American Convention and to compensate María Eugenia Morales de Sierra for her suffering.

El 22 de febrero de 1995, los peticionarios, el Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional y María Eugenia Morales de Sierra, presentaron una demanda contra el estado de Guatemala alegando que ciertos artículos del Código Civil de la República de Guatemala contradecían los artículos 1 (1), 2 , 17 y 24 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos y la Convención sobre la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW). Los artículos relevantes del Código Civil de la República de Guatemala: le confieren a los esposos la facultad de representar a la unión marital, dejando de lado solo unos pocos casos excepcionales en los que las esposas podrian ejercer esta autoridad; le otorgan al esposo el derecho de administrar bienes conyugales, lo que en efecto limita el poder de la esposa a circunstancias excepcionales; delegan el deber de cuidar a los niños menores y el hogar a las mujeres, permitiendo el compromiso profesional fuera del hogar solo en la medida en que no impida su papel principal como madre y ama de casa; le dan a los hombres el poder de oponerse a las actividades de su esposa en la corte "siempre que él la cuide y tenga razones justificadas;" le confirien a los hombres la autoridad de representar a los hijos conyugales en los tribunales y administrar sus bienes; y le impiden a las mujeres ejercer ciertas formas de tutela. La Corte de Constitucionalidad de Guatemala confirmó estas leyes utilizando la protección de las mujeres y la seguridad jurídica como justificación. Sin embargo, la Corte Interamericana sostuvo que estas disposiciones del Código Civil de Guatemala no eran válidas. Se determinó que los Artículos impugnados violan los derechos establecidos en la Convención Americana y la CEDAW. Los artículos 1 (1), 2, 17 y 24 de la Convención Americana obligan al estado a garantizar los derechos consagrados en la Convención, a adoptar medidas legislativas que protejan esos derechos, a garantizar la igualdad de género en la institución del matrimonio, y a garantizar la igualdad de trato ante la ley. Los artículos 15 y 16 de la CEDAW exigen que las mujeres tengan la misma capacidad en materia civil, especialmente las relacionadas con los derechos contractuales y de propiedad, y que los estados tomen las medidas adecuadas para eliminar la discriminación relacionada con cuestiones maritales y familiares. Los artículos del Código de Guatemala privaron a María Eugenia Morales de Sierra (y a todas las mujeres guatemaltecas) de sus derechos garantizados en la Convención Americana, impidiéndoles defender sus intereses legales, reforzando las nociones anticuadas de los roles de género dentro del matrimonio, y perpetuando desventajas sistémicas a las que las mujeres guatemaltecas son sometidas. La Corte ordenó a Guatemala que cumpliera con su Código Civil para satisfacer los estándares establecidos en la Convención Americana y para compensar a María Eugenia Morales de Sierra por su sufrimiento.

Case of Plan de Sánchez Massacre v. Guatemala Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2004)

Gender-based violence in general

On July 18, 1982, special forces murdered 268 people in Plan de Sanchez, Guatemala, predominantly indigenous Mayans. The massacre was part of a broader state policy to counter insurrection that targeted indigenous populations and ravaged communities. During the attack an estimated twenty girls and young women were rounded up, raped and murdered. The remainder of the detainees was killed by grenade and open fire. The representatives of the victims and their next of kin brought suit against the State of Guatemala alleging various violations of the American Convention on Human Rights including Article 1(1): the obligation to respect the rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights, Article 5: the right to humane treatment, Article 8: the right to a fair trial, Article11: the right to privacy, Article 12: the right to freedom of conscience and religion, Article 16: the right to freedom of association, Article 21: the right to property, Article 24: the right to equal protection and Article 25: the right to judicial protection. Guatemala acknowledged the international responsibility of the State and stipulated to the facts of the case before the Inter-American Court. The Court held that, in accordance with the State’s own acknowledgement, Guatemala was in breach the American Convention. With particular regard to Article 24 and 25, the Guatemalan Army abused and raped women and girls of Mayan decent during its genocidal counter-insurgence policy. These women had no recourse to the law. The Court found that the State had aggravated international responsibility for the commission of a State Crime, the commission of which was facilitated by the State’s intention, omission or tolerance during a period of grave human rights violations. The State and its agents, including the Guatemalan Army and civil collaborators, were held responsible for the tragedy that occurred at Plan de Sanchez. 


El 18 de julio de 1982, fuerzas especiales asesinaron a 268 personas en Plan de Sánchez, Guatemala, las cuáles eran predominantemente mujeres indígenas mayas. La masacre fue parte de una política estatal más amplia para contrarrestar la insurrección dirigida a las poblaciones indígenas y otras comunidades devastadas. Durante el ataque, aproximadamente veinte niñas y mujeres jóvenes fueron detenidas, violadas, y asesinadas. El resto de los detenidos fueron asesinados con granadas y a fuego abierto. Los representantes de las víctimas y sus familiares presentaron una demanda contra el Estado de Guatemala alegando varias violaciones de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, las cuáles incluían el artículo 1 (1): la obligación de respetar los derechos consagrados en la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, Artículo 5: el derecho a un trato humanitario, Artículo 8: el derecho a un juicio justo, Artículo 11: el derecho a la privacidad, Artículo 12: el derecho a la libertad de conciencia y de religión, Artículo 16: el derecho a la libertad de asociación, Artículo 21: el derecho a la propiedad, Artículo 24: el derecho a protección igualitaria y el Artículo 25: el derecho a la protección judicial. Guatemala reconoció la responsabilidad internacional del Estado y presentó los hechos del caso ante la Corte Interamericana. La Corte sostuvo que, de acuerdo con el propio reconocimiento del Estado, Guatemala infringió la Convención Americana. Con especial atención a los Artículos 24 y 25, el Ejército de Guatemala abusó y violó a mujeres y niñas mayas en su política de contrainsurgencia genocida. Estas mujeres no podían recurrir a la ley. La Corte determinó que el Estado agravaba la responsabilidad internacional ya que el crimen fue cometido por el Estado mismo. Dicho acto se vió facilitado por la intención, omisión o tolerancia del gobierno durante un período de graves violaciones de derechos humanos. El Estado y sus agentes, incluído el Ejército de Guatemala y colaboradores civiles fueron declarados responsables de la tragedia ocurrida en el Plan de Sánchez.

Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre v. Guatemala Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2009)

Gender violence in conflict

Between December 6 and 8, 1982 a specialized group of the Guatemalan armed forces executed 251 members of the “Las Dos Erres” community. Among those killed were women and children. Women and girls, in particular, were raped and subjected to forced abortion. Soldiers beat pregnant women, at times jumping on their stomachs causing miscarriage. The case was brought before the Inter-American Court following the State’s inability or unwillingness to seek justice on behalf of the victims and their next of kin. The case against the State alleged violations of Article 1(1): the obligation to respect the rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights; Article 8: the right to a fair trial; and Article 25: the right to judicial protection and enforcement. The Court held that the investigation carried out by the Guatemalan State was insufficient and that the State has a positive obligation to diligently investigate the facts of a given case. With regard to women’s rights, the Court found that the Convention of Belém do Pará, which requires that states diligently investigate and punish acts of violence against women, applied to the present case even though the Convention was not in effect at the time of the massacre. The Court found that the act of raping women during the conflict was a state practice “directed to destroying the dignity of women at a cultural, social, family and individual level” (Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre ¶139). The State’s failure to investigate and punish the crimes committed was held to be a violation of the American Convention and the Convention of Belém do Pará and the Court ordered the State to provide various forms of reparation including: restitution, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition. In addition the Court ordered the State to “locate, prosecute, and punish the masterminds and perpetrators” (Case of the “Las dos Erres” Massacre ¶229), prohibited amnesty and mandated that alleged acts of torture and violence against girls and women, in particular, be investigated.

Entre el 6 y el 8 de diciembre de 1982, un grupo especializado de las fuerzas armadas guatemaltecas ejecutó a 251 miembros de la comunidad conocida como "Las Dos Erres." Entre los muertos había mujeres y niños. Las mujeres y las niñas, en particular, fueron violadas y sometidas a abortos forzados cuando los soldados golpearon a las mujeres embarazadas, a veces saltando sobre sus estómagos, causando así abortos involuntarios. El caso se presentó ante la Corte Interamericana tras la incapacidad o falta de voluntad del Estado en reclamar justicia en nombre de las víctimas y sus familiares. El caso contra el Estado alegó violaciones al artículo 1 (1): la obligación de respetar los derechos consagrados en la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos; Artículo 8: el derecho a un juicio justo; y Artículo 25: el derecho a la protección judicial y la ejecución. La Corte determinó que la investigación realizada por el gobierno guatemalteco había sido insuficiente y que el Estado tiene la obligación de investigar diligentemente los hechos de cada caso. Con respecto a los derechos de las mujeres, la Corte determinó que la Convención de Belém do Pará, que exige que los estados investiguen y castiguen con diligencia los actos de violencia contra las mujeres, se aplicaban al presente caso, aunque la Convención no estuviera vigente en el momento de la masacre. El Tribunal determinó que el acto de violar a las mujeres en épocas de conflicto era una práctica estatal "dirigida a destruir la dignidad de las mujeres a nivel cultural, social, familiar e individual" (Caso de la Masacre de "Las dos Erres", párrafo 139). El hecho de que el Estado no investigara y sancionara los delitos cometidos era una violación de la Convención Americana. La Convención de Belém do Pará y la Corte le ordenaron al Estado proporcionar diversas formas de reparación, entre ellas: restitución, rehabilitación, y garantías de no repetición. Además, la Corte le ordenó al gobierno "localizar, procesar y sancionar a los autores intelectuales y perpetradores" (Caso de la Masacre de "Las dos Erres", párrafo 229), y le prohibió la amnistía, ordenando que los presuntos actos de tortura y violencia contra niñas y mujeres fueran investigados con particularidad. 

Rosendo Cantu v. Mexico Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

Rosendo Cantu was walking home when she was stopped and questioned by a group of soldiers. When she did not give the soldiers the answers they were looking for, two of the soldiers raped her while six others watched. Subsequent to the rape, the State failed to carry out an effective investigation into the allegations of sexual violence by members of the armed forces. The Inter-American Court held that Mexico had committed an act of turtler. It placed special importance on the vulnerable situation of Ms. Cantu given the fact that she was a minor and also a member of the indigenous community. It found Mexico in violation of the right to personal integrity, dignity, privacy, the rights of the child and due process rights. It also found that the State had failed to comply with its due diligence obligations to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women and the general obligation of non-discrimination in accessing justice. The Court ordered Mexico to pay monetary compensation for the harms suffered and to also ensure that Ms. Cantu's daughter received a scholarship to study.

Rosendo Cantu caminaba hacia su casa cuando fue detenida e interrogada por un grupo de soldados. Cuando no les dio a los soldados las respuestas que buscaban, dos de los soldados la violaron mientras que otros seis observaron. Luego de la violación, el Estado no realizó una investigación efectiva de las denuncias de violencia sexual cometida por miembros de las fuerzas armadas. La Corte Interamericana sostuvo que México había cometido un acto de turtler. La corte puso especial importancia en la situación de vulnerabilidad de la Sra. Cantu, dado que era menor de edad y también miembro de la comunidad indígena. Encontró a México en violación del derecho a la integridad personal, la dignidad, la privacidad, los derechos del niño y los derechos del debido proceso. También encontró que el Estado no había cumplido con sus obligaciones de diligencia debida para prevenir, investigar y sancionar la violencia contra las mujeres y la obligación general de no discriminación en el acceso a la justicia. El Tribunal ordenó a México que pagara una compensación monetaria por los daños sufridos y también para garantizar que la hija de la Sra. Cantu recibiera una beca para estudiar.

Women and girls victims of sexual violence living in 22 internally displaced persons camps, Precautionary Measures No. MC-340-10 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

On October 21, 2010, ten groups* filed a request on behalf of displaced women in Haiti for precautionary measures before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR). The groups asked the Commission to grant the request pursuant to Article 25 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure as an urgent measure to address the multiple acts of sexual violence that women and girls in the displacement camps faced after the devastating 2010 earthquake. A report detailing the atrocities committed against women brutally attacked in the displacement camps accompanied the request. In January 2011, the Commission granted the request and issued precautionary measures and recommendations. These included sensitive and integral access to medical care for victims of sexual violence, implementation of security measures, and training of officials to deal with sexual violence and assault (including special units in the police and increased patrols). The Commission also requested that Haiti ensure the full participation of grassroots women’s groups in the planning and implementation of policies designed to combat and prevent sexual violence. Further, the Commission recommended that emergency contraception be provided for all victims of sexual violence. This decision was without precedent in the Inter-American System of Human Rights when decided. *Women’s Link Worldwide, the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic of the City University of New York (CUNY), MADRE, Bureau des Acvocats Internationaux, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Morrison & Foerster LLP, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Haitian organizations KOFAVIV, FAVILEK, and KONAMAVID.

Ana, Beatriz, and Celia González Pérez v. Mexico Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (1999)

Sexual violence and rape

Sexual Violence and Rape, Torture, Indigenous Populations, Failure of State Responsibility. The Mexican military illegally detained, raped, and tortured the Tzeltal native sisters Ana, Beatriz, and Celia González Pérez. The Mexican State argued that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) did not have competence to review the petition because the sisters did not exhaust their domestic remedies. According to the IACHR, the sisters effectively sought relief from the Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor, which refused competence to review the sisters’ case in favor of its military counterpart. The IACHR determined the case admissible in respect of the alleged violations of rights protected in the American Convention on Human Rights: Articles 5 (right to humane treatment); 7 (right to personal liberty); 8 (right to a fair trial); 11 (right to privacy); 19 (rights of the child); and 25 (right to judicial protection).

Violencia y violación sexual, tortura, poblaciones indígenas, falta de responsabilidad del Estado. El ejército mexicano detuvo ilegalmente, violó y torturó a las hermanas nativas de Tzeltal, Ana, Beatriz y Celia González Pérez. El Estado mexicano sostuvo que la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) no tenía el poder para revisar la petición porque las hermanas no agotaron sus recursos internos. Según la CIDH, las hermanas buscaron efectivamente un alivio en la Oficina del Fiscal Federal, que se negó a revisar el caso de las hermanas a favor de su homólogo militar. La CIDH determinó el caso admisible en relación con las presuntas violaciones de los derechos protegidos en la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos: artículos 5 (derecho a un trato humano); 7 (derecho a la libertad personal); 8 (derecho a un juicio justo); 11 (derecho a la privacidad); 19 (derechos del niño); y 25 (derecho a la protección judicial).

Zoilamérica Narváez Murillo v. Nicaragua Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2009)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

Ms. Zoilamérica Narváez Murillo suffered physical (sexual abuse, rape, and sexual harassment) and psychological violence by her adoptive father, Mr. Daniel Ortega Saavedra. Mr. Ortega was a deputy in Nicaragua’s National Assembly and protected by congressional immunity from charges against him. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held in 2001 that it had competence to review Ms. Murillo’s petition. The IACHR withheld on deciding the case on the merits in hopes that the parties would amicably come to a settlement. On June 9, 2009, Ms. Murillo sent a communication to the IACHR, which expressed her willingness to withdraw the lawsuit against the state of Nicaragua. Ms. Murillo requested that the IACHR keep the reasons of her amicable withdraw confidential.

La Sra. Zoilamérica Narváez Murillo sufrió violencia física (abuso sexual, violación y acoso sexual) y violencia psicológica por parte de su padre adoptivo, el Sr. Daniel Ortega Saavedra. El Sr. Ortega era diputado en la Asamblea Nacional de Nicaragua y estaba protegido por la inmunidad del Congreso de los cargos en su contra. La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) sostuvo en 2001 que tenía competencia para revisar la petición de la Sra. Murillo. La CIDH se negó a decidir el caso en cuanto al fondo con la esperanza de que las partes llegaran a un acuerdo amistoso. En efecto, el 9 de junio de 2009, la Sra. Murillo envió una comunicación a la CIDH, que expresaba su disposición a retirar la demanda contra el estado de Nicaragua. La Sra. Murillo solicitó a la CIDH que mantuviera la confidencialidad de los motivos de su retiro amistoso.

Maria Eugenia Morales de Sierra v. Guatemala Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2001)

Gender discrimination

Discrimination in marriage.  Challenge to Articles 109, 110, 113, 114, 115, 131, 133, 255 and 317 of the Guatemalan Civil Code, which define role of each spouse within the institution of marriage, creating distinctions between men and women in violation of Articles 1(1), 2, 17 and 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Discriminación en el matrimonio. Desafío a los artículos 109, 110, 113, 114, 115, 131, 133, 255 y 317 del Código Civil de Guatemala, los cuáles definen el papel de cada cónyuge dentro de la institución del matrimonio, creando distinciones entre hombres y mujeres en violación de los artículos 1 ( 1), 2, 17 y 24 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos.

“White Van" (Paniagua-Morales et al.) v. Guatemala Inter-American Court of Human Rights (1998)

Acid violence

The IACHR submitted this case to the Court to determine whether Guatemala had violated the American Convention on Human Rights by "acts of abduction, arbitrary detention, inhuman treatment, torture and murder committed by agents of the State, of Guatemala against eleven victims," some of them women. The Court held that Guatemala violated Articles 1(1), 4(1), 5(1), 5(2), 8(1) and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as Articles 1, 6 and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture. The Court ordered Guatemala to investigate and punish those responsible for the violations, and to pay reparations to the victims and their next of kin.

La Comisión Internacional de Derechos Humanos presentó este caso a la Corte para determinar si Guatemala había violado la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos por "actos de secuestro, detención arbitraria, trato inhumano, tortura y asesinato cometidos por agentes del Estado de Guatemala contra once víctimas", algunos de ellas mujeres. La Corte sostuvo que Guatemala en efecto violó los artículos 1 (1), 4 (1), 5 (1), 5 (2), 8 (1) y 25 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, así como los artículos 1, 6 y 8. de la Convención Interamericana para Prevenir y Sancionar la Tortura. La Corte le ordenó a Guatemala investigar y sancionar a los responsables de las violaciones, y pagar compensación a las víctimas y sus familiares.

Molina-Theissen v. Guatemala Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2004)

Sexual violence and rape

This case was submitted to the Court by the IACtHR to determine if human rights violations were committed by Guatemala in relation to the forced disappearance of 14-year old Marco Antonio Molina Thiessen by the Guatemalan army. The Molina Thiessen family was comprised of left-leaning academics and was therefore considered a threat to the military regime in place at the time of the forced disappearance. Prior to child's disappearance, his sister, Emma Guadalupe, was detained and illegally incarcerated, during which time she was repeatedly raped and physically and psychologically tortured. She managed to escape and Marco Antonio's abduction was seen as retaliation against the family for Emma Guadalupe's escape. After the forced disappearance, the Molina Thiessen family never again saw Marco Antonio and was forced to seek political asylum in a number of other countries. Guatemala acknowledged its international responsibility for these incidents. The Court found Guatemala to have violated numerous articles of the American Convention on Human Rights to the detriment of Marco Antonio, and "Articles, 5(1) and 5(2) (Right to Humane Treatment); 8 (Right to a Fair Trial); 17 (Rights of the Family), and 25 (Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights, and that it failed to comply with the obligations established in Articles 1(1) (Obligation to Respect Rights) and 2 (Domestic Legal Effects) thereof, to the detriment of the next of kin of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen," including his sister, Emma Guadalupe.

Este caso fue presentado a la Corte por la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos para determinar si Guatemala cometió violaciones de los derechos humanos en relación con la desaparición del ejército guatemalteco de Marco Antonio Molina Thiessen, de 14 años. La familia Molina Thiessen estaba compuesta por académicos de izquierda politicamente y, por lo tanto, se consideraba una amenaza para el régimen militar vigente en el momento de la desaparición. Antes de la desaparición del niño, su hermana, Emma Guadalupe, fue detenida y encarcelada ilegalmente, tiempo durante el cual fue violada repetidamente y torturada física y psicológicamente. Ella logró escapar y el secuestro de Marco Antonio fue visto como una represalia contra la familia por su escape. Después de la desaparición de Marco Antonio, la familia Molina Thiessen nunca más volvió a verlo y se vio obligada a buscar asilo político en otros países. Guatemala reconoció su responsabilidad internacional por estos incidentes. La Corte determinó que Guatemala había violado numerosos artículos de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos en detrimento de Marco Antonio, y "Artículos, 5 (1) y 5 (2) (Derecho a un trato humano); 8 (Derecho a un juicio justo 17; (Derechos de la familia), y 25 (Protección judicial) de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, y que no cumplió con las obligaciones establecidas en los Artículos 1 (1) (Obligación de respetar los derechos) y 2 (Derechos nacionales). Efectos legales), en el detrimento de los familiares de Marco Antonio Molina Theissen," incluída su hermana, Emma Guadalupe.

Plan de Sánchez Massacre v. Guatemala Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2004)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

The IACHR submitted this case to the Court, alleging violations by Guatemala of the rights to humane treatment, to judicial protection, to fair trial, to equal treatment, to freedom of conscience and of religion, and to private property, in combination with the obligation to respect rights. These allegations arose from a massacre carried out by the Guatemalan army against a primarily Mayan community. During the massacre, approximately 20 girls ages 12 to 20 were mistreated, raped and murdered. Guatemala acknowledged its international responsibility for the massacre and withdrew any objections to the allegations. The Court found that Guatemala "breached the rights set forth in Articles 5(1) and 5(2) (Right to Humane Treatment); 8(1) (Right to Fair Trial); 11 (Right to Privacy); 12(2) and 12(3) (Freedom of Conscience and Religion); 13(2) paragraph a and 13(5) (Freedom of Thought and Expression), 16(1) (Freedom of Association), 21(1) and 21(2) (Right to Property), 24 (Right to Equal Protection) and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights; and that it did not fulfill the obligation to respect rights set forth in Article 1(1) of that Convention, as set forth in paragraphs 47 and 48 of the instant Judgment." 

La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos presentó este caso a la Corte, alegando violaciones por parte de Guatemala de los derechos humanos, con respecto a la protección judicial, a un juicio justo, a un trato igualitario, a la libertad de conciencia y de religión, y a la propiedad privada, en combinación con la obligación de respetar dichos derechos. Estas acusaciones surgieron a partir de una masacre llevada a cabo por el ejército guatemalteco contra una comunidad principalmente maya. Durante la masacre, aproximadamente 20 niñas de 12 a 20 años fueron maltratadas, violadas y asesinadas. Guatemala reconoció su responsabilidad internacional por la masacre y retiró cualquier objeción a las acusaciones. El Tribunal determinó que el país "violó los derechos establecidos en los artículos 5 (1) y 5 (2) (Derecho a un trato humano); 8 (1) (Derecho a un juicio justo); 11 (Derecho a la privacidad); 12 (2) ) y 12 (3) (Libertad de conciencia y religión); 13 (2) párrafos a y 13 (5) (Libertad de pensamiento y expresión), 16 (1) (Libertad de asociación), 21 (1) y 21 ( 2) (Derecho a la propiedad), 24 (Derecho a la igualdad de protección) y 25 (Derecho a la protección judicial) de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, y que no cumplió con la obligación de respetar los derechos establecidos en el artículo 1 (1) de esa Convención, tal como se establece en los párrafos 47 y 48 de la presente Sentencia. "

Paulina Del Carmen Ramirez Jacinto v. Mexico Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2007)

Sexual violence and rape

Forced motherhood after rape. A complaint was lodged against Mexico for failing to allow a minor to receive an abortion after she was raped. The complaint alleged the violation of Articles 1, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 19, and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, Articles 1, 2, 4, 7, and 9 of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women, Article 10 of the Additional Protocol to the American Convention in the Area of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Articles 9, 17, and 24 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 3 and 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Articles 19, 37, and 39 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Mexico and the petitioner reached a friendly settlement under which the government of Baja California would pay the victim's legal and medical expenses, provide her with school and housing expense assistance, medical and psychological services, free public higher education for her child, a computer and a printer, moral damages. The Mexican state also committed itself to increasing awareness and availability of legal termination of pregnancy.

Maternidad forzada tras la violación. Se presentó una queja contra México por no permitir que un menor de edad se hiciera un aborto después de haber sido violada. La denuncia alegó la violación de los artículos 1, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 19 y 25 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos, los artículos 1, 2, 4, 7 y 9 de la Convención Interamericana sobre la Prevención, sanción y erradicación de la violencia contra la mujer, artículo 10 del Protocolo adicional a la Convención Americana en materia de derechos económicos, sociales y culturales, artículos 9, 17 y 24 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos, Artículos 3 y 12 de la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos, artículo 12 de la Convención sobre la eliminación de todas las formas de discriminación contra la mujer y artículos 19, 37 y 39 de la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño. México y la peticionaria llegaron a un acuerdo amistoso en virtud del cual el gobierno de Baja California pagaría los gastos legales y médicos de la víctima, le proporcionaría asistencia para gastos escolares y de vivienda, servicios médicos y psicológicos, educación superior pública gratuita para su hijo, una computadora e impresora, mas compensacion por daños morales. El estado mexicano también se comprometió a aumentar la conciencia y la disponibilidad de la interrupción legal del embarazo.

Proposed Amendments to the Naturalization Provisions of the Constitution of Costa Rica Inter-American Court of Human Rights (1984)

Gender discrimination

Challenge to gender-based nationality law.

Desafío a la ley de nacionalidad que se basa en género sexual. 

Girls Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2005)

Gender discrimination

The IACHR submitted an application to the Court to determine whether the Dominican Republic had violated Articles 1(1), 2, 3, 8, 19, 20, 24 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights to the detriment of Dilcia Oliven Yean and Violeta Bosico Cofi. The application was based on the fact that the two girls had been denied Dominican birth certificates despite having been born within Dominican territory, leaving the girls stateless and without nationality. This also caused one of them, Violeta, to not be admitted to school since you must present a birth certificate to attend school in the Dominican Republic.  The Dominican Republic eventually granted the girls their birth certificates and then argued that by doing so, the girls' cause of action before the commission was null. The girls, however, argued that receiving their birth certificates did not remedy the fact that they had been stateless for four years. The Court found the Dominican Republic violated Articles 1(1), 3, 5, 18, 19, 20, and 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights and ordered the Dominican Republic to issue a public apology to the girls and to pass legislation consistent with Article 2 of the American Convention which would make it simple to acquire citizenship upon late declaration of birth. 


La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos presentó una solicitud a la Corte para determinar si la República Dominicana había violado los artículos 1 (1), 2, 3, 8, 19, 20, 24 y 25 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos con respecto a Dilcia Oliven Yean y Violeta Bosico Cofi. La solicitud se basó en el hecho de que a las dos niñas se les habían negado los certificados de nacimiento dominicanos a pesar de haber nacido en el territorio nacional, lo cuál las dejó sin patria y sin nacionalidad legal. Esto también causó que una de ellas, Violeta, no fuera admitida en la escuela, ya que es requerimiento para asistir una escuela del país el presentar un certificado de nacimiento. La República Dominicana finalmente le otorgó a las niñas dichos certificados y luego argumentó que como ya estaba hecho, la causa de acción de las niñas ante la comisión era nula. Las niñas, sin embargo, argumentaron que recibir sus certificados de nacimiento no remedió el hecho de que habían sido despatriadas durante cuatro años. La Corte determinó que la República Dominicana en efecto violó los artículos 1 (1), 3, 5, 18, 19, 20 y 24 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos y le ordenó a la República Dominicana emitir una disculpa pública a las niñas y aprobar leyes consistentes con el artículo 2 de la Convención Americana, lo cual facilitaría la adquisición de la ciudadanía en el momento de la declaración tardía de nacimiento.


Guatemala's 8 Law: Progress Against Impunity? (2010)


Guatemala Human Rights Commission releases report one year after Guatemalan Law Against 8 passed.

La Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala publicó un reporte un año después de que la Ley 8 pasara. 

Aftershocks: Women speak out against sexual violence in Haiti's camps (2011)

Sexual violence and rape

Report by Amnesty International highlighting the protection needs of women and girls in camps in Haiti after the earthquake (2011).

Our Bodies are Still Trembling - Haitian Women's Fight Against Rape (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

IJDH, MADRE, TransAfrica Forum, and the Universities of Minnesota and Virginia law schools author report to ensure more effective protection and promotion of women's human rights in Haiti.

Sexual Violence in Haiti's IDP Camps: Results of a Household Survey (2011)

Sexual violence and rape

Report by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice presenting preliminary data from a survey of households, focusing on reported incidents of sexual violence (2011).