CANBERRA, Australia, Dec 11 (LSN) – Elizabeth Evatt, of the UN Human Rights Committee, addressed an international conference of lawyers on “Implementing International Human Rights” this week. In her remarks at the conference, held at the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, she pointed out that if the Human Rights Committee finds a violation, the State has a legal obligation under UN agreements to provide an effective remedy, including changes to national legislation, if necessary. The Human Rights Committee deems it a violation of the human rights of women not to provide “safe” abortions.
In a report to the 52nd Session of the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Committee demonstrated beyond doubt that it is their goal to repeal laws against abortion by showing maternal mortality caused by illegal abortions. In its report on Peru, the committee says, “The Committee is also concerned that abortion gives rise to a criminal penalty even if a woman is pregnant as a result of rape, and that clandestine abortions are the main cause of maternal mortality. Those provisions not only mean that women are subject to inhumane treatment but are possibly incompatible with articles 3, 6 and 7 of the Covenant.” The Committee goes on to recommend that “the provisions of the Civil and Penal Codes should be revised in the light of the obligations laid down in the Covenant, and in particular in its articles 3 and 26. Peru must…take the necessary measures to ensure that women do not risk their life because of the existence of restrictive legal provisions on abortion.”
Judge Roslyn Higgins of the International Court of Justice made another alarming presentation at the international lawyers' conference. In discussing the role of litigation in implementing human rights, Higgins said that it is a matter of priority that international human rights law be directly invoked in domestic courts. Further, she revealed that plans for a UN Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to cope with a “huge number of cases” were well underway. Higgins pointed out that human rights cases brought forward at the international level accomplish two important things: (i) they establish UN jurisdiction more clearly