A group of UN and regional human rights experts with mandates relating to detention and women’s rights today called on governments across the world to fully implement the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules).
The Bangkok Rules were adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2010 to complement the UN Nelson Mandela Rules by providing guidance on a gender-specific approach to the treatment of women in prison and to address growing global female prison population by promoting non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment that are designed to meet women’s needs and address the causes of their offending. Marking the tenth anniversary of the Bangkok Rules, human rights leaders have welcomed efforts to date to implement the Rules for women and girls in criminal justice systems but expressed concern at the significant increase in the number of women and girls in prison globally since the Rules were adopted, and the risks to their human rights as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The joint statement calls on States to fully implement the Bangkok Rules, and specifically to take a number of key measures to protect the human rights of women in contact with the law, including through sentencing reform, the provision of community-based responses to offences committed by women, and improved healthcare, mental healthcare, for women in prison.
The statement was issued by:
- Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights;
- Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
- Dubravka Šimonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and
- Hilary Gbedemah, Chair of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women;
- Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children;
- Malcolm Evans, Chairperson on behalf of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture;
- Leigh Toomey, Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention;
- Elizabeth Broderick, Chair of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice;
- Joel Hernández García, President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights;
- Alejandra Mora Mora, Executive Secretary of the InterAmerican Commission of Women;
- Maria Teresa Manuela, Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa;
- Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The statement can be read in full in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
More on the tenth anniversary of the Bangkok Rules:
- A joint civil society Call to Action, coordinated by PRI, was also published today, calling on governments to implement the Bangkok Rules in full, and specifically to reduce the imprisonment of women and protect the rights of women in detention.
- PRI held a webinar on 3 December, bringing together women with experience of detention and advocates working to make a difference for women in contact with the law, to consider progress since the adoption of the Bangkok Rules and possibilities for the future.
- In the first blog of a new series for the Bangkok Rules anniversary, PRI’s Tríona Lenihan presents the latest data on the global female prison population. If you would like to contribute to the series, contact email@example.com.
Edited 11 December 2020 to include list of signatories.