On Thursday, July 8, Judge Patricia Pérez Goldberg, a member of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, gave the keynote speech "The obligation to judge with a gender perspective from the standards of the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights" during the seminar, held in the Supreme Court of Justice, Mexico City, whose objective was the creation of the first Inter-American Network of Gender Liaisons of the Judiciary.
This meeting was organized by the President of the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico, Minister Arturo Zaldívar, and Minister Yasmín Esquivel in collaboration with the Permanent Commission on Gender and Access to Justice of the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), the Follow-up Mechanism to the Convention of Belém do Pará (MESECVI), and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. One of the aims of this two-day seminar was to "discuss, generate consensus and, in particular, weave networks for justice with a gender perspective throughout our continent" under the guidance of the Convention of Belém do Pará.
In her speech, Judge Patricia Pérez Goldberg highlighted the work of the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice which "in a pioneering work in 2013 developed the "Protocol to Judge with a Gender Perspective", which was updated in 2020 through a broad consultative process and became a fundamental tool to make the principle of equality and non-discrimination a reality, in a manner that consistently respects judicial autonomy and independence”. Additionally, this action constitutes an example of an institutional strategy to mainstream equality and the gender perspective in federal justice.
In the seminar’s opening speech, Judge Patricia Pérez Goldberg stressed that judicial cooperation is an essential factor in the seminar since "it implies a dialogue between peers and recognizes the particular problems faced by national judges in resolving specific cases".
The common thread for weaving networks between the justice systems of the American continent is the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women, better known as the Belém do Para Convention of 1994 which, for the first time, established women’s right to live a life free from violence. The Judge also stated that "in addition to the immense normative contribution of this important international treaty, specific protection mechanisms were established in the fight to eliminate all types of violence against women, in both the public and private spheres."
The Keynote Speech presented by Judge Patricia Pérez Goldberg addressed "the obligation to judge with a gender perspective from the standards of the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights", which was broken down into three central connecting points within the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ case law.
The beginning of the seminar emphasized that equality and the gender perspective represent two sides of the same coin. In her presentation Judge Perez Goldberg reflected on article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights. “This provision includes an overarching principle of the treaty and other rights, that of equality and non-discrimination, in other words, all rights must be interpreted and implemented taking this cornerstone principle into account,” the Judge stressed.
However, the figures and indicators on violence against women report critical data, those that have the greatest impact on their rights and access to justice, and the judge declared that "the causes and consequences are found in a complex and systemic framework of patterns that stem from patriarchy”, against which “International Law cannot remain silent”.
“We as judicial officers have to aspire to real equality, because justice cannot be based on a neutral application of the law. The tool that we have at our disposal to carry out this differentiated analysis is precisely the gender perspective” she stated.
Gender perspective according to the Inter-American Court
The Judge stated that "conceptually we can define the gender perspective as the analytical instrument for the study of cultural and social constructions specific to women and men and the differentiated impact they have" with the aim of attacking historical, social, cultural, and economic inequality and achieving substantive equality. And in operational terms, she added, moving in a direction that, as judges, provides us three very specific points: (i) to evaluate the differentiated impact of the violations based on the gender of the victims, (ii) to identify or make visible gender stereotypes, and how the Inter-American Court understands these stereotypes and, finally, (iii) adequately repair the violations, taking into account a differentiated approach to reparations.
The first case which involved the application of a gender perspective was the case of Miguel Castro Castro Prison v. Peru of 2006. In this case, the Court established that acts of violence affect women and men in different ways, as some acts were directed specifically at women and in a greater proportion than for men. The Judge also highlighted the Case of Cotton Field v. Mexico, where it was especially relevant to take into account the context when judging acts of violence against women, or the Case of Guzmán Albarracín v. Ecuador on sexual violence that ended in suicide. Another case, V.R.P v. Nicaragua, made it possible to determine that the State became a second aggressor.
Judge Patricia Pérez Goldberg specified the Inter-American Court's definition of gender stereotypes and pointed out that “the Court has reiterated the State's duty to act with enhanced due diligence in prevention, investigation and punishment. In this way, in its case law it has identified, recognized, made visible and rejected the harmful or damaging gender stereotypes used to avoid initiating the corresponding criminal investigations, to justify violence against women and perpetuate its impunity, since they constitute a violation of the right of access to justice and judicial guarantees”.
In the presentation she highlighted that, in many cases, the Court recognized the influence of certain discriminatory sociocultural patterns whose consequences undermine the victim’s credibility during the criminal process in cases of violence and tacitly assume responsibility for the events. These problems, she assured, translate into the inaction of jurisdictional bodies in the face of these complaints or even allow the respective evaluation of the evidence to contaminate the investigation of the cases.
The last element of the Keynote Speech focused on intersectionality to judge with a gender perspective and mentioned two Court judgments from 2021 which emphasized violations against women journalists and women human rights defenders.
In the speech, she pointed out that the Inter-American Court mandates States to guarantee (i) women's unrestricted and non-discriminatory access to justice, ensuring that women human rights defenders receive effective protection against harassment, threats, reprisals, and violence; (ii) a justice system that meets international standards of competence, efficiency, independence, impartiality, integrity, and credibility, and ensures prompt and diligent investigation of acts of violence, as well as (iii) the application of mechanisms that guarantee that the rules of evidence, investigations and other legal evidentiary procedures are impartial and not influenced by gender stereotypes.
Finally, Judge Patricia Pérez Goldberg referred to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the health crisis, stating that "in the Declaration (Human Rights and COVID-19), the Court reiterated the State’s duty of strict due diligence regarding the right of women to live a life free of violence, therefore all necessary actions must be taken to prevent cases of gender and sexual violence; provide safe mechanisms for direct and immediate reporting, and strengthen care for victims.”
You can access the Keynote Speech "The obligation to judge with a gender perspective from the standards of the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights" by Judge Patricia Pérez Goldberg here: https://youtu.be/UOXrbz_tMLA
You can access the words of Judge Patricia Pérez Goldberg at the closing ceremony here: https://youtu.be/e_dexeanGcY