On 10 May 2021, LAW submitted a letter to the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, requesting the Committee to examine the issue of the protection of complainants’ identities who have suffered from conflict related sexual violence during its 79th session between 21 June and 9 July 2021, as a topic for a General Recommendation.
The letter and spirit of the Convention and its Optional Protocol is to ensure all necessary measures required for the elimination of all forms and manifestations of discrimination against women and girls are undertaken by State Parties and enforced. However, several significant challenges continue to affect the ability of women and girls to access redress before the Committee, and the Committee urgently needs to give them serious consideration. Indeed, women and girls who speak out against their perpetrators often face threats of retaliation including further violations and abuses; this is particularly evident when the perpetrator is the state or an agent of the state. Those remarkable women and girls who have the courage to speak out must be protected against retaliation, otherwise survivors will not be able to come forward and seek justice from the very Committee appointed to protect them.
It is thus imperative that the Committee allows women and girls who wish to file a communication to protect their full identities from the state or state agents whilst the communication is being considered. LAW suggests this topic for a General Recommendation, to allow the Committee to protect the identities of Complainants under the Optional Protocol in these exceptional circumstances. This will ensure that in cases where they are facing a threat, women and girl still have access to redress and empowerment.