L.N.P. v. Argentina
Human Rights Committee
Communication No. 1610/2007
25 May 2007
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Art. 7: torture, inhumane and degrading treatment
Art. 14(1): access to the courts
Art. 17: privacy
Art. 24: special protection of minors
Art. 26: non-discrimination
Ms. P alleged that she was sexually assaulted by three men when she was 15 years old. She immediately reported the attack to the police, but was kept waiting for several hours at the police station and a medical centre before she was examined. During the exam, Ms. P was subjected to a test of her virginity despite complaining that the attack had been solely anal. Ms. P also complained of the needlessly painful nature of the examination. During the investigation, a social worker interviewed many of Ms. P’s neighbours and relatives about her sexual history and morals.
The three alleged attackers were brought to trial, and did not deny that the sexual activity took place, but argued that Ms. P consented. The subsequent trial was conducted solely in Spanish, despite the fact that the first language of Ms. P and several of the witnesses was Qom. The three accused were acquitted following a trial in which great reliance was placed on Ms. P’s sexual history by the prosecution and the judge. Ms. P was not notified of her rights to participate in the trial, and so was later unable to appeal. The authorities did not inform Ms. P of the outcome of the trial and, as a result of the remote location of her home, it was two years before she became aware that the accused had been acquitted.
The Human Rights Committee found several violations of Ms. P’s rights during the investigation and trial. The Committee found that the police, medical examiner and the court did not provide protections appropriate to Ms. P’s age, discriminated against her in the emphasis that was placed on her sexual history, and denied her right of access to the courts when she was not informed of her legal rights. The court also found that the events at the police station and the medical examination constituted inhumane or degrading treatment, and that the investigation had arbitrarily interfered with Ms. P’s private life.
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