Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls

by International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD)
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Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls
Justice for Pacific & Caribbean Women & Girls

Over the next three months, we will be adding several countries to our TrackGBV Data Dashboard for the Pacific Islands. Thanks to your support, we have been able to develop TrackGBV and analyze gender bias and discrimination in over 5,000 sentencing decisions in the region. Now, it’s time for us to scale. 

Over the last few years, we have been exploring the possibility of scaling TrackGBV to Latin America and the Caribbean. We have spoken with stakeholders in Chile, Belize, Barbados, Jamaica, and Grenada. As we have begun to share our work with local human rights and women’s rights organizations, our work has garnered the interest of the UN Women’s regional Caribbean office. They have long recognized the need for judicial reform to improve access to justice for women and girls, and our preliminary conversations suggest we will be strong partners in the movement for gender justice.  We recently applied for their call for proposals, which focuses on:

Grenada

Implementing culture-based approaches to deliver messaging targeting the judiciary and their treatment of victims or perpetrators in the administration of justice for family violence related crimes and incidents. Understanding the challenges in the application of sentencing guidelines and how this also leads to the need for second prevention interventions.

Jamaica

Strengthening and expanding gender-responsive administration of justice through law enforcement and the judiciary to improve capacity to investigate and prosecute cases of violence against women and girls, including family violence, and to enforce court orders in a sensitive and timely manner. Additionally, to focus on research looking at court user experience with family violence (intimate partner violence especially protection order application, and child abuse).

Regardless of whether or not we are selected, we will be expanding TrackGBV to the Caribbean as a result of your support. By working to build the capacity of the judiciary, we aim to create an environment where the future analysis of GBV decisions is not constrained by resource limitations.  We will continue this critical work of ensuring that the judiciary is a place where victims/ survivors are not retraumatized, where their testimony is not minimized, and where justice and accountability can be achieved. 

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TrackGBV data presented at the workshop in Fiji
TrackGBV data presented at the workshop in Fiji

Dashboard Testing

Over the past month, we began beta testing our data analytics dashboard, which will soon be publicly available and populated with data from over 5,000 GBV cases from 12 Pacific countries. At the moment, we are conducting user research and iterating the design and features with our team and partner organizations, to ensure advocates are able to benefit from using data in their efforts for gender equity and access to justice. 

 

TrackGBV at the Fiji Women’s Law Association Continuing Legal Education Workshop 

On February 10th, we presented virtually at a panel workshop run by the Fiji Women’s Law Association and Fiji Women’s Rights Movement on gender stereotypes in sexual offence cases. The discussion focused on some of the persistent challenges in gender-based violence (GBV) cases in Fijian courts including victim-blaming and judicial stereotyping as well as the progress made to date. We shared our latest TrackGBV data for Fiji including the prevalence of contentious factors like gender stereotypes in cases and change over time.

Looking at Fiji, we see major strides taken over the last decade or so including new legislation in 2009, directives aimed at improving equity in GBV cases in 2018, and judicial training. Fiji also makes publicly available the highest percentage of case law related to GBV in the region which is a great first step towards transparency and accountability. For the TrackGBV program, this means that we were able to analyze 809 GBV cases from the magistrate courts, High Court, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeals, from 2000-2018.

To see the latest data from Fiji, check out our Comparative Report on the Impact of Gender Stereotyping on Judicial Decisions in Violence Against Women Cases Across the Pacific Islands Region

 

Preliminary Samoa Data

As we’ve shared before, we will be running our Train the Trainers program with the Samoa Ministry of Justice later this year. As a part of this training, we are collating the data from 282 gender-based violence cases from Samoa over the period of 2000-2020. This week, we completed pieces of the preliminary analysis which we can share here. This type of data will soon be available for all 12 Pacific countries on our data analytics dashboard.

First-time Offender Status

We found a higher rate of the inappropriate use of first-time offender status where credible testimony, medical evidence, or police reports indicated past evidence of violence, even if there was no previous conviction. In cases between 2000-2012, first-time offender status was misapplied in 13.9% of cases, and between 2013-2020, it was misapplied in 20% of cases. 

Medical Reports

The importance of medical reports in GBV cases cannot be understated and goes directly to preserving evidence of the severity of a crime, which would likely influence sentencing outcomes. Medical reports were only used in 32.3% of cases overall, and only 28.9% of sexual violence cases. 

While we have yet to compile the data on contentious factors which point to gender bias and discrimination, the preliminary data indicates that there will be much to share with the Samoa Ministry of Justice to improve accountability and access to justice. 

FWLA Continuing Legal Education Workshop, Feb 10
FWLA Continuing Legal Education Workshop, Feb 10
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Barbados Supreme Court
Barbados Supreme Court

Expanding TrackGBV

In our last update we discussed expanding a partnership with civil society organizations in Latin America and Caribbean. Recently, we partnered with the Women and Development Unit (WAND) of the University of the West Indies to begin a pilot analysis of TrackGBV in Barbados. This will include the review of 60-100 domestic and sexual violence cases. In a 2009 Report, 21% of murders in Barbados were a result of domestic violence and this increased to 33% of all homicides in 2013. Furthermore, an OEA Barbados Country Report from 2017 identified that extrajudicial (outside of the courts) settlements were taking place and removing the ability of the courts to hold perpetrators accountable. If successful, this pilot would expand to looking at cases over a larger time frame (1-2 decades) to identify trends and efficacy of legislation meant to curtail GBV.

Train the Trainers Program

Due to Covid, our ability to conduct in-person training for the Samoa Ministry of Justice has been hampered. Nevertheless, we have continued in the development of our Train the Trainers program and are now looking at the potential to institutionalize our training with local civil society, like the Samoa Victim Support Group. This would allow us to both build the capacity of a local civil society organization that deals directly with survivors, and also have the benefit of them conducting in-person training with the Ministry of Justice. In these times it is important for organizations to stay nimble and adaptable. Though the training will be delayed till next year, we believe this will ultimately be a stronger outcome.

Samoa & Tonga Case Law Analysis

As part of the training program discussed above, our law firm partners will soon commence an analysis of 400+ cases coming from Samoa and Tonga. The data analysis that comes from the Samoan cases will be included in the training for the Samoa Ministry of Justice, but will also help to build out a Data Dashboard for Advocates that we discussed in the last report. We hope to present the outcomes of this analysis by year’s end. Furthermore, we continue to obtain case law from other Pacific Island jurisdictions, like Palau, Nauru, and Tuvalu, where the number of cases we are able to access is minimal. 

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Expanding TrackGBV

We are pleased to announce that TrackGBV is expanding to Latin America and the Caribbean. In the coming months we will be conducting strategic assessments and pilot case law analysis in multiple countries in the region, as well as partnering with local governments and organizations. 

We have already started working with United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) to conduct a needs assessment, outreach to the Supreme Court, and to connect with local grassroots activists to better understand the access to justice barriers in Belize.

Dashboard Development

We have begun development of the interactive data dashboard for TrackGBV, after receiving support from Clifford Chance. Combined with case law analysis of 5,000 cases in 12 countries across the Pacific, the dashboard will provide valuable data to advocates and judiciaries across the region. The database and dashboard are being designed and tested with users in the Pacific. 

medical reports included

Example: Data on inclusion of medical reports

Train the Trainers Program

We are currently developing a Train the Trainers program for TrackGBV alongside pro bono lawyers at Clifford Chance. The program will cover the foundations of gender discrimination, including: defining gender-based violence (GBV) and related concepts; GBV’s connection to bias, myths, stereotypes; and specific customary practices. The program will also provide the preliminary regional and country-specific TrackGBV data from ICAAD’s case law analysis as well as an overview of legislation and policies related to domestic violence and sexual offences. The result of the training will be that participants will have the tools needed to identify gaps in judicial decision making regarding GBV cases and can use these tools to suggest reform. The training is being developed at the request of the Ministry of Justice in Samoa.

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ICAAD, President Faure, & Mauritius Advocates
ICAAD, President Faure, & Mauritius Advocates
Discriminatory Laws Under the Spotlight
The Commonwealth Equality & Justice Forum 2020 was hosted by the Royal Commonwealth Society and brought together over fifty Equality & Justice Alliance programme partners, Government officials, civil society leaders and legal experts to share experiences on reforming discriminatory laws in different Commonwealth countries.
 
At the Forum, which ran from Feb. 12-14, ICAAD launched and presented a new report, A Comparative Legal Review of the Impact of Gender Stereotyping on Judicial Decisions in Violence Against Women Cases Across the Pacific Island Region. The report was authored by ICAAD, and was commissioned and edited by Sisters for Change as part of its work under the Equality & Justice Alliance Programme to reform laws that discriminate against women and girls and LGBT people across the Commonwealth.
 
 
Hansdeep Singh and Jaspreet Singh, ICAAD Co-Founders with Jane Gordon and Ali Gordon, Co-Founders of Sisters for Change
 
The report analyzes the development of international and regional standards and jurisprudence on State obligations to eliminate gender bias and stereotyping. It also identifies case studies of good practice from Commonwealth jurisdictions including Canada, Fiji, Namibia, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which have produced pioneering case law and domestic legislation explicitly targeting gender bias. Finally, the report examines the scope of gender-based violence against women and girls in the Pacific Island Region and provides an in-depth analysis of the impact of gender bias and stereotyping on judicial decisions in violence against women across seven countries in the Commonwealth Pacific Island Region – Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Kiribati.
 
Jaspreet Singh Presenting on the Impact of Bias on Judicial Sentencing in GBV Cases
 
 
Some of the excellent presentations at the Forum included:
 
  • Ending Discrimination in the Commonwealth: Challenges & Opportunities
  • Application of Good Practice Research to the Reform of Sexual Offences Laws
  • Civil Society Insights on Curbing Faith-Based Backlash to Equality Laws
  • Building Technical Capacity and Engaging with Parliament and Civil Society to Reform Discriminatory Laws in St. Lucia
  • The Role of Youth Champions in Advancing Equality in the Commonwealth
  • Anti-Discrimination and Hate Crimes Legislation, Belize
  • Making the Case for Sexual Reproductive Health Rights
  • Advancing Equality in Seychelles
  • Gender Stereotyping in Violence Against Women Cases In the Pacific Island Region
 
The Conference included wide-ranging stakeholders in both civil society and government. Moreover, the President of Seychelles Danny Faure met with all the delegates from the Annual Forum and pledged that his country would reform its discriminatory laws this year.
 

 
ICAAD is a registered 501(c)(3) with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. 

info@icaad.ngo
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Organization Information

International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD)

Location: Chappaqua, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ICAADglobal
Project Leader:
Hansdeep Singh
Co-Founder, Director of Legal Programmes
Chappaqua, NY United States
$83,387 raised of $150,000 goal
 
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