The Reporting System Under Human Rights Treaties Criminology Essay

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Evidence of these can be seen in 1993, when the then UN commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Kooijmans, found that he rarely considered the application of norms of international human rights law or international humanitarian law to women. Well documented cases of torture and ill-treatment of women went uninvestigated or were treated in a desultory fashion. Although the Special Rapporteur identified rape as torture in some contexts, he did so inconsistently. The Special Rapporteur's work underlines the traditional male-centred nature of the UN 'mainstream' and suggests that the UN's separation of 'general' and 'women's' matters, disadvantage women. Although the mainstream international human rights instruments have proved largely ineffective tools for ensuring of women's equality rights dress to offer women in terms of equality protection, the Convention against Torture, has however been of more but still limited use, of protection against human rights violations

The committee against torture was adopted in 1984, it is conceived by its promoters and drafters as primarily as a response to the use of state violence against citizens, the convention accordingly focuses on the actions of public officials and the state's responsibility for them.

During the period that the convention was being drafted saw the beginning of the increased feminist movement. This engagement has led to the production of a substantial body of literature examining the extent to which the existing mainstream human rights instruments and procedures cover human rights violations that are gender-specific or of particular relevance to women, whether these instruments are used to address such violations and if not, what strategies can be adopted to rectify these limitations. (cite charlotte bunch)

The mainstream legislation where found to be wanting in important respects when it came to gender specific human rights. The primary criticisms were that the instruments overwhelmingly addressing violations that occurred in the public sphere of the state and civil society and were therefore that were of more relevance to men than women (HILARY CHARESLWORTH).

In this analysis the issue of violence against women became an important touchstone for measuring the adequacy of the existing human rights regime to deal with violations of central concern to women. Those concerned about violence against women naturally looked to those international instruments that had been adopted with the primary purpose of protecting the integrity of the person and which guaranteed the right to life, the right not to be subject to torture or other cruel or degrading treatment. Those who therefore turned to CAT with the expectation that the latest norms adopted by the UN would address the problem of endemic violence against women in the private sphere were disappointed. The scope of the convention was limited to those forms of ill treatment that were directly inflicted by the state or with which state agents were closely involved. Critics argued that this traditional emphasis on state action obscured the many violations of women's mental and physical integrity that took place in the family or private sphere. Accordingly, the convention reflected a prioritization of the types of human rights violation that should be addressed by international standards.

No doubt that CAT and its adherence to fairly traditional international law paradigms of state responsibility, does exclude from its coverage many types of violations of the rights to physical and mental integrity of women, and that violence in the family is largely untouched by its provisions. In response to the limitations under CAT to address gender specific violations, this led to the adoption of other instruments that specifically addressed the problem of violence against women. In view of the new legislation that address vaw it may be tempting to dismiss the convention has having no real potential to address this issue. However despite its limitations, the convention does have some potential to address violations of women's human rights, including many that are gender-specific of interpreted and applied in a gender-specific way.

First the convention even when narrowly interpreted applies to many instances of violence against women under the power of the state. While this may not be the main form of violation of women's rights, it is clear that in many countries significant numbers of women suffer serious violations of their rights to physical and mental integrity while held in state detention of one form or another. Women are detained or imprisoned in many countries for reasons related to their gender, and may suffer deprivations and violations of their rights that are inflicted because of their gender or take a form determined by gender.

The scope of the convention

It is clear from the text and the history of the convention that it was primarily intended to address the direct abuse of power by the state and state officials against persons who are subject to detention and who are under the power of the state. Article 1 defines the term of 'torture'; this definition has been met with forceful criticism from those who view it from a gender perspective. Concern has also been expressed that, even within the area of state conduct, the definition and its interpretations may give less than full recognition to violations of women's physical and mental integrity. Its adoption of the public/private divide in the form of a direct state action requirement reaches neither violence against women in society or in the home, unless the state is directly implicated. The convention demonstrates that those threats of particular importance to women are not priority of the international community. While these criticisms are accurate, it is important to note the justifications that have been or can be put forward in defence of the definition.

Although the civil and political rights of women should be protected, violations of these rights are not the harms from which women need protection (cite). The operation of the public/private distinction at a gendered level is the most clear in the definition at a gendered level is the most clear in the definition of civil and political rights, particularly those concerned with protection of the individual from violence.

The international prohibition on torture is limited with regards women's rights. A central feature of the international legal definition of torture is that it takes place in the public realm, it must be inflicted by public official or someone acting in that capacity (cite). Although many women are victims of torture in the public sense (cite) by far the greatest violence against women occurs in the 'private' nongovernmental sphere. Thus in 1996 in her second report, the UN special on violence Against women made the case for defining sever forms of domestic violence as torture (cite). She showed the similarities between torture and domestic violence: both the torture victim and the abused women are isolated and live in a state of terror; they suffer physically and psychologically; both forms of violence are committed intentionally in order to terrorise, intimidate, punish or to extort confessions of often non-existent deviant behaviour. If violence against women is understood not just as aberrant behaviour but as part of the structure of the universal subordination of women, it cannot be considered a purely 'private' issue.