Call to protect transgender persons’ right to life

Kathmandu, November 20

On the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the International Commission of Jurists has called on all South Asian countries to fulfil their international obligations to respect, protect and ensure the right to life of all transgender persons.

It has also urged the countries to also investigate alleged violations of their right to life promptly, thoroughly and effectively.

“While there has been some progress in protecting the human rights of transgender individuals through legislation and judicial decisions, in South Asia rampant violence from both state and non-state actors continues to place their lives at risk. Most governments do not collect data on violence against transgender persons,” a press release issued by ICJ said today.

Trans Murder Monitoring, which records cases of murder of transgender persons based on accounts from individuals and civil society organisations, reports 2609 unnatural deaths of trans and gender-diverse persons across 71 countries between January 2008 and September 2018.

In South Asia, between 2008 and 2016, 58 transgender persons were reported murdered in India, 37 in Pakistan, two in Nepal, and two in Bangladesh.

“It is laudable that Pakistan, India and Nepal have taken measures to end discrimination against transgender persons, and have recognised their right to self-identify,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ Asia-Pacific director.

“However, violence, harassment, extortion, rape and murder of transgender persons continue to be committed. Police frequently refuse to file complaints, and are often themselves complicit in violence against transgender persons,” he added.

According to the release, the judiciary has played an important role in protecting transgender rights in India, Nepal and Pakistan.

The Supreme Courts in all three countries have issued decisions recognising transgender persons’ rights, including the right to self-identity one’s gender.

These decisions have acknowledged that transgender persons are particularly targeted with violence by state and non-state actors, and that police have largely failed to protect them from violence.