Joint statement for the 20th anniversary of the World Day Against the Death Penalty on the death penalty and the human rights of women and LGBTQIA+ people (ENG)


By World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, October 10, 2022

20th World Day Against the Death Penalty

On this 20th anniversary of the World Day Against the Death Penalty devoted to the link between torture and application of the death penalty and following on from the World Day Against the Death Penalty 2021 dedicated to women facing the death penalty, sentenced to death, executed, pardoned or charged with a capital crime and found not guilty, World Coalition members and allies of women and LGBTQIA+ people on death row take this opportunity to:

  • Draw attention to gender bias in the use of torture in the legal process leading to the imposition of the death penalty. Women and LGBTQIA+ people are particularly vulnerable to abuse, including physical, sexual and psychological torture. In addition, female victims of gender-based violence, who are overrepresented on death row, are at risk of false confessions when subjected to coercive investigative methods, especially those conducted by men.
  • Emphasize that violence against women and LGBTQIA+ people in custody – including gender-based and sexual abuse and harassment, inappropriate touching during searches, rape and sexual coercion – can reach the level of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT), among others.
  • Emphasize that women and LGBTQIA+ people have specific needs, including sexual and reproductive health care, medical and mental health care, harm reduction services for drug users, and protection from gender-based violence, among others. These needs are not systematically taken into account and covered in prisons, which can turn detention into torture.
  • Highlight that in many countries, especially those with the mandatory death penalty, women and LGBTQIA+ people may be sentenced to death regardless of their experiences of gender-based violence, among their other aspects of vulnerability, prior to incarceration.

More broadly, the members of the World Coalition and the allies of women and LGBTQIA+ people sentenced to death and at risk of being sentenced to death wish to use this 20th anniversary to:

  • It should be emphasized that, as the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions did in his 2022 report, the death penalty as it is currently practiced can be considered as torture.
  • Draw attention to the discrimination and intersectional inequalities that women and LGBTQIA+ people face, as they can negatively impact the judicial process leading to the death penalty. Pervasive gender biases in criminal legal systems influence: investigation, through the gender biases of law enforcement; trial, where marginalized women and LGBTQIA+ people tend to be denied a fair trial; and at the sentencing stage, where mitigating circumstances that could benefit women and LGBTQIA+ people on death row are not considered.
  • Recall that in violation of international human rights law and standards, 12 countries continue to criminalize consensual same-sex relations, imposing the death penalty if convicted.
  • Address the recognition of the intersectional dimension of discrimination. Analysis of the profiles of women sentenced to death reveals that most come from ethnic and racial minorities, are illiterate and live with intellectual or psychological disabilities, often due to the gender-based violence they have suffered. Discrimination based on sex does not operate in isolation but is compounded by other forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on age, race, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, sex characteristics, economic status and disability, among others.
  • Make visible the lack of accurate and up-to-date data on the number and status of women and LGBTQIA+ people sentenced to death, executed or whose death sentence has been commuted or pardoned.

We recommend that the governments of countries that still maintain the death penalty:

  1. Abolish the death penalty for all offences, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics;
  2. Establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, as called for by the UN General Assembly in its resolutions calling for a moratorium on the application of the death penalty;
  3. Pending total abolition, we call on governments to:
    1. Eliminate the death penalty for offenses that do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold under international law and standards, including same-sex relationships and drug-related offences;
    2. Repeal provisions that allow for the mandatory imposition of the death penalty, which does not allow judges to consider the circumstances of the offense for the accused when determining the sentence;
    3. Commute the sentences of women sentenced to death for killing close family members who perpetrated gender-based violence against them and for women sentenced to death for drug trafficking and other non-life-threatening offenses human;
    4. Recognize the aggravating forms of violence and discrimination experienced by girls, women and LGBTQIA+ people – including gender-based violence, early and forced marriage;
    5. Review laws, criminal procedures and judicial practices and implement policies and legislative reforms to protect women and LGBTQIA+ people from violence and discrimination;
    6. Ensure that the criminal justice system takes full account of all mitigating factors related to the backgrounds of women and LGBTQIA+ people, including evidence of past abuse as well as psychosocial and intellectual disabilities;
    7. Ensure publicly available disaggregated data on those sentenced to death, their profile, age, gender, courts that handed down indictments and places of detention;
    8. Prevent the disproportionate detention and prosecution of women for “moral and sexual” offenses and people for their sexual orientation and decriminalize these offences;
    9. Promote training for all those involved in the investigation, legal defense, prosecution, trial, adjudication and sentencing of crimes involving women on gender-based discrimination and violence, pathways to crime and gender-sensitive mitigation measures;
    10. Ensure that all persons facing the death penalty have access to free and effective legal representation by a lawyer experienced in representing persons accused of capital offenses and trained to recognize and argue mitigating factors, including those related to gender-based discrimination and violence;
    11. Develop and implement programs to prevent gender-based violence and discrimination and promote the human rights of women, girls and LGBTQIA+ people;
    12. Ensure access to consular assistance for foreign women accused of offenses punishable by death, as required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations;
    13. In accordance with the Bangkok Rules and the Mandela Rules, adopt gender-sensitive policies regarding the detention of women, ensuring their safety and security before trial, during admission to prison and while incarcerated.
  1. ACAT Germany
  2. AdvocAid
  3. human rights defenders
  4. American Incorporation Company
  5. Asian Anti-Death Penalty Network (ADPAN)
  6. Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G)
  7. Lawyers Without Borders France
  8. Capital Punishment Justice Project
  9. Center for Constitutional Rights
  10. Tunisian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
  11. Colegio de Abogados and Abogadas de Puerto Rico
  12. Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide
  13. The death penalty project
  14. Law and Peace
  15. Together Against the Death Penalty
  16. Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany
  17. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  18. International Federation of ACATs (FIACAT)
  19. Moroccan Forum for Truth and Justice
  20. Gender Based Violence Clinic – University of Maryland Carey School of Law
  21. German Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty
  22. Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women
  23. Greater Caribbean for life
  24. International harm reduction
  25. Human rights activists in Iran
  26. Human Rights and Legal Profession Project Assistant
  27. International Commission of Jurists
  28. Institute for Criminal Justice Reform
  29. International Bar Association Rule of Law Institute
  30. IraQueer
  31. Italian Federation of Human Rights
  32. Information Center on Innocence and the Death Penalty in Japan
  33. kenya human rights commission
  34. India Lawyers Collective
  35. Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Masyarakat
  36. League for Human Rights (LDH)
  37. Madrid Bar
  39. Movement against racism and for friendship between peoples (MRAP)
  40. Pax Christi Uvira
  41. Penal Reform International
  42. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  43. Red para la Abolición de la Pena de Muerte y las Penas Crueles
  44. Resilient Women’s Organization
  45. Planet Refugees-Human Rights
  46. The practice of rights
  47. Sandigan Kuwait
  48. The Sentencing Project
  49. Society for Human Rights and Development Organization (SHRDO)
  50. Taiwan Alliance for the Abolition of the Death Penalty (TAEDP)
  51. Terre des Femmes e.V.
  52. The Texas Post-Violence Project
  53. Christian Union for the Progress and Defense of Human Rights
  54. The William Gomes Podcast
  55. witness to innocence
  56. Women beyond the walls
  57. Women’s International and Harm Reduction
  58. World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

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