Inquiry into Ciudad Juárez

To date, only one inquiry into a grave and systematic violation of human rights has been conducted by the CEDAW Committee. It dealt with a series of murders, rapes and disappearances of women in the Ciudad Juárezregion of Mexico. In 2002, two NGO’s, Equality Now and Casa Amiga, made a request to the CEDAW Committee for an inquiry into the incidents.

In October 2003, two CEDAW members visited Mexico to meet with authorities from federal, state, and local levels, as well as victims’ families, human rights defenders, and NGO workers. Based on these discussions, a report was prepared and adopted by the Committee in January 2004 which outlined 16 recommendations for the Mexican government.  The recommendations addressed two main areas where action was required by the Mexican government: the first involving the investigation of the crimes, punishment of perpetrators, and support to families; and the second addressing violence prevention and promotion of women’s human rights. A series of follow-up investigations showed that while the inquiry did not resolve the vast number of issues that factored into this situation, including social, cultural, and socioeconomic concerns, it did place added international pressure on the government to take action.

Activity - Individual Reflection or Class Discussion Questions

  • What impact do you think the inquiry might have had on the families of the victims, the local community, the Mexican government and NGOs advocating for women’s rights?
  • What do you think are some advantages and some disadvantages of the CEDAW inquiry procedure?
  • With only one inquiry taking place since CEDAW came into force in 2000, it is a human rights mechanism that is underused as a means of defending women’s human rights. Why do you think that might be?
  • What impact do you think the inquiry procedure has on access to justice for women?