Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Emily Fleckner
Human Rights Council 20th Session
June 25, 2012
Thank you, Madame President.
We thank the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers for her examination of the independence and impartiality of prosecutors.
The United States wholeheartedly agrees that prosecutors should respect and protect human rights. We also agree it is imperative to cooperate with the larger legal profession, and we supported the recent adoption of the UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems.
We appreciate the Special Rapporteur’s recognition that a variety of institutional structures could foster an independent, objective, and impartial prosecution service. It is particularly important to work within institutional differences in capacity-building.
For example, the Special Rapporteur recommends mandatory human rights training for prosecutors. Accredited U.S. prosecutors are subject to the Continuing Legal Education requirements of their individual state laws. Additionally, all prosecutors that have been trained at accredited U.S. law schools have received an education in civil rights as applicable under our Constitution. At the federal level, our Office of Legal Education trains more than 24,000 attorneys annually, including on many human rights-related issues. Although not a mandatory system, nonetheless over 80 percent of prosecutors have received training in human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Similarly, referral of a particular case to civilian trial courts is not the only method to ensure human rights violations or matters involving civilians are appropriately adjudicated.
We would welcome your views on how to reconcile prosecutorial discretion and impartiality, with your recommendation to allow “interested parties” to challenge decisions not to prosecute. In our view, prosecutors should take into account the views of “interested parties” in their prosecutorial decision making, but a “challenge” process could in fact decrease independence.
We applaud the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences for her incisive and focused approach to the growing problem of gender-related killings of women in times of both peace and conflict.
Special Rapporteur Manjoo notes in this report that the phenomenon of gender-related killings happens across a wide range of social and political contexts. The killings may occur in the private or public spheres, and sometimes but not always involve sexual violence. Gender-related violence often intersects with other forms of discrimination, for example based on migrant status, indigenous identity, or, increasingly, sexual orientation. Nearly all instances are marked by a lack of accountability for the perpetrators.
The United States is committed to preventing, reducing, and ultimately eliminating violence against women, and urges States to consider their responsibility in investigating and prosecuting gender-based violence within their jurisdiction. The United States’ first ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women coordinates federal agencies’ work on this issue.
To prevent violence against women, we encourage all States to work with national governments, regional organizations, and the UN system, especially UN Women, to identify common challenges and good practices to address this issue. We must not just develop and enforce comprehensive legislation to end the de jure and de facto impunity of perpetrators; we must also change the social perceptions of women that enable violence to be tolerated or even justified. Civil society plays an important role in this process. As such, the United States funds a variety of grassroots organizations to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, and help build their capacity for training local judiciary and law enforcement and engaging in public advocacy.
As the Special Rapporteur has advocated, States must adopt a holistic approach to ending violence against women. By engaging whole communities—not just women and girls, but also boys and men, religious leaders and military officials, business leaders and politicians—we can bring an end to perceptions and practices that seek to justify committing violence against a human being simply because of her sex.
Thank you, Madame President.