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Saturday, January 21, 2023
Court Issues Landmark Sexual Violence Ruling, Agreeing with Lowenstein Clinic Brief
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued a landmark decision in Angulo Losada v. Bolivia that will strengthen access to justice for girls and adolescents who have been subjected to sexual violence. The news was welcomed by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, which filed an amicus brief in the case last year.
In 2012, Brisa Liliana De Angulo Losada brought the petition against her home state of Bolivia before the Inter-American Human Rights System. Angulo Losada claimed that Bolivia had failed to prevent and redress repeated sexual assaults and rapes her cousin committed against her when she was a child. Now, 11 years later, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued its decision in favor of Angulo Losada.
The landmark ruling, issued Jan. 19, held that Bolivia failed to meet its human rights obligations to prevent, investigate, and punish the perpetrator of the crimes committed against Angulo Losada. In its decision, the court specifically ordered Bolivia to reform its legislation to make lack of consent, rather than use of physical force, the standard for adjudicating sexual violence crimes. With this precedent-setting verdict, all states in the region must use the lack-of-consent standard as the central pillar for deciding future sexual violence cases.
“The court’s order is particularly crucial as we’re seeing increasing attacks against comprehensive sexuality education in the Americas.”
— Jessica Tueller ’21.
The Lowenstein Clinic and global legal advocacy organization the Center for Reproductive Rights filed their amicus brief in the case in April 2022. The brief supported and supplemented the petitioners’ allegations as well as the Inter-American Commission’s 2019 merits report in the case, which had found Bolivia responsible for violating Angulo Losada’s rights. The brief also asked the court to consider states’ obligations to combat sexual violence against children by establishing educational and health services that help children recognize and report sexual assault and seek assistance when it occurs.
For the clinic, the ruling is especially significant because it reinforces Bolivia’s obligation to provide comprehensive sexuality educational and health services, as outlined in the amicus brief. The court’s decision ordered several concrete non-repetition measures in Bolivia, including comprehensive sexuality education for all children and adolescents within the state.
“Following the framing we used in our amicus brief, the Inter-American Court explained that comprehensive sexuality education can teach children and adolescents how to stand up for themselves and to seek help if they experience incest or other forms of sexual violence,” said clinic student and brief co-author Jessica Tueller ’21. “The court’s order is particularly crucial as we’re seeing increasing attacks against comprehensive sexuality education in the Americas.”
The Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic is a Yale Law School course that gives students firsthand experience in human rights advocacy. The clinic undertakes a wide variety of projects each term on behalf of human rights organizations and individual victims of human rights abuse.