Human Rights researchers of Utrecht University present recommendations on the treatment of trans prisoners to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Lifeguard ring with the text: to our Trans Siblings, you are not alone

Four researchers, affiliated with the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) at Utrecht University, submitted a written observation to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights regarding the treatment of transgender prisoners. On 22 April 2021, one of the researchers, Lorena Sosa, will present their recommendations to the Court.

The involved researchers are Lorena Sosa, Pauline Jacobs, Marjolein van den Brink and Mina Burnside.
The Inter-American Court is one of three regional human rights tribunals, together with the European and the African human rights courts. With this brief the Utrecht researchers responded to a call for input of the Court seeking advise on issues regarding ‘Differentiated approaches to persons deprived of liberty’, with special attention for specific groups. On 22 April 2021, one of the researchers, Lorena Sosa, will present their recommendations to the Court.

Marginalisation and maltreatment

The written contribution of the SIM (Netherlands Institute of Human Rights) researchers focuses on the position of trans prisoners. Trans prisoners are among the most vulnerable detainees. They not only suffer from structural and systemic discrimination and marginalisation outside of prison and face higher chances of being incarcerated; their marginalisation and maltreatment is often augmented by detention because of the (nearly) global practice to detain men and women separately. Their placement is often done based on their sex assigned at birth, causing multiple problems.

Other issues discussed in the written opinion include detention conditions and protection against violence and discrimination, the possibilities to live and express oneself in accordance with one’s self-experienced gender, access to health care and rehabilitation. The latter is particularly important because reintegration in their former life and community may not work for many trans ex-convicts, given their outcast position in society.

First time speaking at such an event

Between 19 and 22 April the Court has invited all researchers, NGOs and other stakeholders who have responded to its call, to present their main findings. On 22 April, Lorena Sosa will highlight the SIM group’s main recommendations to the Court in an online session. It is the first time, in SIM’s existence, that its researchers will participate in such an event. A fitting birthday present from the researchers to SIM, that is celebrating its 40th birthday this year.