What advances can we identify in international human rights regimes that
incorporate alternative cultural understandings of reparations in their
verdicts? This Brief responds to this question through a detailed study
of the case of Inés Fernández, an indigenous Me´phaa woman from the
state of Guerrero, Mexico, a victim of torture and rape by members of
the Mexican military in 2002. In 2010, the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights sentenced the Mexican State and established a series of
obligatory measures of reparations and reforms designed to establish new
conditions for the non-repetition of such acts. Most importantly, for
the first time ever, the court granted collective reparations to a
community in response to acts of sexual violence committed against an
indigenous woman of that community. International standards tend to view
reparations in cases of rape as directed at the individual who suffered
these acts. However, respecting indigenous viewpoints requires
amplifying the understanding of reparations to incorporate what justice
and reparations signify in particular cultural contexts. The ruling
therefore sets an important precedent for implementing the right to
reparations for indigenous peoples, not only in Latin America, but in
other regions as well.
In non-Western contexts, acts of violence perpetrated against an
individual cannot necessarily be addressed through individual reparation
to the victim, but must respond to the community or to the collective
that is similarly harmed by such human rights violations.
To enact structural changes that prevent the repetition of violence,
particularly sexual violence against ethnic and racial minorities,
victims’ rights to reparations must take into account particular
understandings of justice in specific cultural contexts.
Mora, M. ELLA Policy Brief: Victims’ Rights in Multicultural Contexts: The Case of Inés Fernández at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 5 pp pp.