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EP Hearing Denounces Femicide in Guatemala and Mexico

04/20/2006

(Translation of text originally in Spanish)
Brussels, 20 April 2006

EP hearing denounces femicide in Guatemala and Mexico
“No more deaths!”

At the two-day hearing and debate in the European Parliament there was a clear denunciation of the serious human rights violations in Mexico and Guatemala, where there have been thousands of violent murders of women over the last 10 years, in what has become a systematic practice that has, moreover, been subject to impunity.

In Guatemala, official statistics show that between the year 2000 and March 2006 there were 2,335 reported murders of women. Between 1 January and 6 April 2006, 170 women were killed. In 2005 just three cases resulted in prosecutions.

In Mexico, where Ciudad Juárez has become synonymous with atrocities and impunity for murders of women, the official figures for the period between 1993 and 2005 report 379 murders. This figure was surpassed in other Mexican states such as Chiapas, where official figures range between 1456 and 612 femicides between 1994 and 2004. In the state of Mexico, the figure for 2004 alone is 500 women murdered in the capital, Toluca, and 360 registered murders between January and September 2005.

The fact that the perpetrators were charged in only a very small number of cases shows the serious ineffectiveness of the legal and police authorities, as well as the lack of political will of successive governments to solve and eradicate these crimes as a matter or urgency.

On Wednesday 19 April in the morning the public hearing brought together the European Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights and its Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality to hear statements and testimonies from both countries and representatives of civil society in front of Yakin Ertürk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences and Ruth Gaby Bermont, a Council of Europe Rapporteur.

The public hearing was followed by two intensive debates between Latin American and European politicians of various political affiliations and members of women’s and human rights networks, under the chairmanship of MEPs Raul Romeva, Greens/EF, and Elena Valenciano, PSE, with a view to forging strategic alliances and taking measures to help eradicate and punish these crimes against women in Mexico and Guatemala.

The final statement from the hearings calls on the governments of Mexico and Guatemala to honour the international agreements and treaties they have signed on human rights and against violence and discrimination against women. It also calls on the Mexican government to apply its national and constitutional laws and refrain from the detention of any person charged on the basis of confessions made under torture. It also calls on multinational companies to take steps to protect their women workers, since many of the young women who were murdered were working in maquiladoras.

The statement ends with a call on MEPs to adopt an emergency resolution on this issue. The MEPs at the hearing promised to send a letter to the Austrian Presidency chairing the 4th Summit of EU-ALC Heads of State in Vienna, asking for femicide to be included on the Summit’s agenda. They also agreed to enlarge the Interparliamentary Group on Femicide of Mexico, Guatemala and Spain to include the European Parliament and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. It also approved a schedule of similar events to be held in the parliaments of EU Member States. Lastly, the participants asked the MEPs to set up a sub-chapter on “Femicide” in the EP Network on Disarmament.

Signatories

Copenhagen Initiative for Mexico and Central America (CIFCA)
Grupo Sur
ICFTU
European Network of Oscar Romero Committees
Network combating violence against women, Guatemala
Mexican Commission for Defence and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH)
Terre des Femmes
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (IFHR)