International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

The Observatory supports women lawyers  

March 8 is the International Women’s Rights Day. On this occasion, the Observatory wishes to put forward profiles of women lawyers who fight for the recognition of their rights in their country.   

Many women lawyers are persecuted in the world, the Observatory affirms its support. As members of the profession, these women must be recognized the same rights as their colleagues.    

The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held in Havana (Cuba) in 1990 reaffirms in its preamble that: ““the peoples of the world affirm, inter alia , their determination to establish conditions under which justice can be maintained, and proclaim as one of their purposes the achievement of international cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”. 

Some of our colleagues have recently been victims of violence and intimidation in the course of their work. 

  • In Afghanistan, Latifa Sharifi was threatened for her fight against domestic violence against women.  
  • In the Philippines, Czarina Musni, committed to the protection of vulnerable people and indigenous communities, has been persecuted and defamed by the state.   
  • In Equatorial Guinea, Gemma Jones was arbitrarily detained and intimidated for seeking accountability for national companies.   
  • In Nicaragua, Eilyn Margarita Cruz Rojas was intimidated by the police for denouncing the arbitrary practices of the Nicaraguan judicial system.  
  • In El Salvador, Bertha Maria de Leon was subjected to hateful and misogynistic messages aimed at delegitimizing her work in assisting women victims of violence.   

We have a special thought for our Turkish colleague, Ebru Timtik who died in detention in 2020 after a hunger strike to demand a fair trial. We also remember Verónica Guerrero who was murdered in 2022 for defending the rights of the people of Matatlán, Mexico.  

Finally, we continue to support the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, sentenced by the Iranian justice for her defense of human rights.  

The Observatory welcomes statements such as the recent judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of “Digna Ochoa v. Mexico”, in which the Court recognizes that “women human rights defenders face additional obstacles related to gender discrimination” and that women’s access to justice is sometimes hindered by the application of gender stereotypes, moving away from judicial impartiality. The Court thus sets a precedent by affirming that “States have the obligation to adopt a differentiated approach taking into account discrimination and gender stereotypes that have historically accentuated violence against women and women’s rights defenders.  

It is clear that 30 years after the adoption of the basic principles on the role of Lawyers, many abuses continue to be committed against lawyers throughout the world. It is the duty of the States to reaffirm their adherence to these fundamental principles aiming at guaranteeing a state of law and to repress the behaviors threatening the profession.   

The Observatory denounces all situations in which the fact of being a woman constitutes an additional risk factor for the free exercise of the profession.