Mexican Supreme Court Declares Criminalization of Abortion Unconstitutional

By: Christian González

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Managing Editor of the News

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – The National Supreme Court of Justice unanimously voted on September 7, 2021 that criminalization of abortion is unconstitutional.

Protestors demonstrate for abortion rights in Mexico City. Green handkerchiefs have become a symbol for pro-choice and women’s rights movements in Latin America. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

The Court made its ruling when determining the validity of several provisions of the Penal Code of Coahuila, a state in northern Mexico. Article 196 of the Penal Code imposed a prison sentence of up to three years on women who voluntarily undergo an abortion and on those who help facilitate the abortion. The Court held this provision to be invalid in totality. A portion of Article 198 forbade healthcare professionals from assisting a woman with her abortion. A portion of Article 199 created an exception to penalization for abortions occurring before the twelfth week of pregnancy – but only instances of rape or artificial insemination. Both these individual portions of were also held to be invalid by the Court. Additionally, the Court ruled that section II of Article 224 – a provision that gives a lower penalty for crimes of rape between spouses, common-law partners, and civil partners – was also invalid.

In a press release, the Court stated that it “understood that the product of pregnancy deserves protection that increases over time, as the pregnancy progresses. However… this protection cannot ignore the rights of women and pregnant people to reproductive freedom. Therefore, the Plenary establishes, to absolutely criminalize the interruption of pregnancy is unconstitutional.” The President of the Court, Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea, explained the consequences of this ruling: “From now on, you will not be able to, without violating the court’s criteria and the constitution, charge any woman who aborts under the circumstances this court has ruled as valid.” The final decision of the Court has yet to be published, so what the Court’s “criteria” is remains to be seen.

Only four states in Mexico – Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Veracruz, and Mexico City – have thus far affirmatively legalized abortion, with all allowing for access to abortion before the twelfth week of pregnancy. The remaining twenty-eight states in the country all have some form of criminal penalization for abortion in their respective state codes. Since decisions from the National Supreme Court of Justice are binding to all federal and state judges, there are now constitutional grounds for challenging the restrictive laws in each of these states. Rebecca Ramos Duarte, director of the pro-reproductive rights group GIRE, believes that state legislatures will now be pressured into revising their anti-abortion laws before facing potential litigation.

Mexico, a largely conservative and Catholic country, will potentially be the largest Latin American country to allow abortion. This decision comes within a week of a new abortion law in Texas being signed into effect, which bans all abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy. The United States Supreme Court ruled to deny an injunctive order on the law on September 1. María Verza of AP News suggests that women in Texas, a state that shares a border with Coahuila, could now potentially find access to legal abortion in Mexico.

For further information, please see:

AP News – Mexico’s Supreme Court rules that abortion is not a crime – 7 Sep. 2021

Reuters – Mexico’s top court decriminalizes abortion in ‘watershed moment’ – 7 Sep. 2021

Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación – Comunicados de Prensa: Suprema Corte declara inconstitucional la criminzación total del aborto – 7 Sep. 2021

Supreme Court of the United States – Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson – 1 Sep. 2021

The New York Times – Mexico’s Supreme Court Votes to Decriminalize Abortion – 7 Sept. 2021


Chocolate Making Companies Can Learn A Lesson From Ferrero’s Ethical Commitments

By: Ryan Ockenden

Impunity Watch Staff Writer

YAMOUSSOUKRO, Côte d’Ivoire The cocoa harvesting industry in Côte d’Ivoire continues to be rife with child slavery. Children have been forced to overwork in unhealthy environments often kidnapped from their homes, brought across country lines, and held prisoner on cocoa plantations. Some of the largest international chocolate-making companies – such as Hershey, Nestle, and Mars – stand at the center of this controversy.

Children work side by side on cocoa plantations to cultivate cocoa from pods in order to serve a massive international chocolate-making market. Photo Courtesy of Fortune and Benjamin Lowy.

Chocolate-making companies seem inept at solving the child slavery problem, or perhaps they simply do not care to. Executives at these companies publicly abhor child labor in the chocolate industry. For decades, companies have promised to make changes through either stricter regulatory measures, or changing where they buy cocoa from – but these promises remain largely empty. The executives know that their success relies on gaining competitive advantages within the international market. For them, using child labor gives them an advantage because they can keep their cocoa purchase costs down.

One company, Ferrero, has put ethics before the zeal of gaining a competitive advantage. In 2011, Ferrero partnered with Save the Children in order to work toward a ten-year goal of transitioning their cocoa purchases to 100% sustainable and broadly ethical sources. Ferrero met their goal, and just last week renewed their partnership with Save the Children for an additional five years. Together they are committing €8M ($9.43M) to continue their sustainability and ethical devotion to cocoa cultivation. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has noted that all actions taken by another person that concern a child must be primarily focused on that child’s best interests. In many African communities, cultural expectations of children’s labor contributions differ from those generally sought by countries enforcing United Nations policies. Therefore, Ferrero and Save the Children agreed that moderate child labor is acceptable so long as it includes healthy working conditions that will protect child workers from economic exploitation, hazardous activities, and will give them an opportunity to attend school.

Ferrero’s project with Save the Children incorporates a variety of ways to ensure those goals are met. Ferrero is investing in tracking the supply chain to trace the source of cocoa so that they can check farms for any violations. Additionally, they are mapping farmers in order to prevent deforestation, helping women in the communities to attain small business loans, and ensuring children have access to continually improving education. While other international chocolate-making companies find themselves subject to lawsuits for aiding and abetting human rights violations, perhaps they can learn a lesson from a company that stands invested in ethics.

In order to ensure that abusive child labor is eliminated from the cocoa industry in Côte d’Ivoire, it will take contributions from all chocolate-making companies to commit to ethical and sustainable cultivation. These commitments will strengthen protections for child workers, increase access to quality education, empower women to engage in markets, and develop communities across West Africa.

For further information, please see:

African Court on Human and People’s Rights – African Court Law Report – 2017-2018

European Food Agency News – Ferrero Still In Field Against The Scourge Of Child Labor – 25 Mar. 2021

The Guardian – Mars, Nestle and Hershey to face child slavery lawsuit in US – 12 Feb. 2021

The Washington Post – Supreme Court Weighs Child Slavery Case Against Nestle USA, Cargill – 1 Dec. 2020

Fortune – Bitter Sweets: A special on-the-ground report from West Africa – 1 Mar. 2016

Second International Human Rights Forum Promotes Judicial Dialogue and Collaboration Among Three Regional Courts

By: Kimberly Erickson

 Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

STRASBOURG, France – The European Court of Human Rights hosted the second International Human Rights Forum on March 25, 2021 in Strasbourg, France and via an online conference platform.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France hosted the second International Human Rights Forum on March 25, 2021. Photo Courtesy of the Council of Europe.

The fora’s objective was to enhance judicial dialogue and collaboration among the three regional human rights courts, meeting on a biennial basis in rotating locations.

The first forum was held in Kampala, Uganda in October 2019 and hosted by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Discussion themes included “Operationalizing the International Human Rights Forum,” “Enhancing Jurisprudential Dialogue,” and “Financing and Sustaining the Forum.” A memorandum of understanding, also known as the Kampala Declaration, was signed at this time by representatives of each regional court to reaffirm their commitment to international human rights.

The second forum included discussions on jurisprudential cross-fertilization, current regional issues, and developments made since the first forum. Practical advancements in capacity building aimed towards information sharing and direct contact have been implemented, such as wider judicial dialogue networks and staff exchanges among the regional courts. For the former, each regional court has hosted and participated in a variety of other regional and national dialogues on human rights. In addition, each regional court has created or used digital communication platforms, online learning courses, and annual electronic reports, thereby expanding the network of information sharing and collaboration on human rights. For the latter, lawyers, judges, and executive leaders conduct working visits to the other regional courts in order to develop bi- and tri-lateral relationships, study case law, and become familiar with regional judicial methods.

President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Justice Sylvain Oré, emphasized the importance of sharing the courts’ experiences so that they may each better address distinct regional judicial issues, including implementation of court decisions, jurisprudence, and ratification of international and regional human rights covenants. “We should have a certain harmonization on judgements we deliver. We had it in mind when we reached this memorandum of understanding,” he said, referring to the Kampala Declaration. His message of collaboration embodies the universality of human rights and transcends geographic boundaries.

Uganda and the African continent as a whole benefitted greatly from the improved dialogues among the regional courts according to Ugandan Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and Dr. Robert Eno, Registrar of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Both live and online presence dialogues included relevant topics such as migration, violence against women, environmental hazards, climate change, bioethics, terrorism, and mass data surveillance.

Discussions and results from the second forum have not yet been made public.

For further information, please see:

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Memorandum of Understanding: Kampala Declaration – 29 Oct. 2019

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Press Release: All Set for the Second International Human Rights Forum Tomorrow – 24 Mar. 2021

AllAfrica – Uganda: Kampala Declaration Casts Wider Net to Safeguard Human Rights – 29 Nov. 2019

Anadolu Agency – Regional human rights courts sign cooperation pact – 30 Oct. 2019

European Court of Human Rights – Programme: 2nd International Human Rights Forum (Regional Courts) – 25 Mar. 2021

European Court of Human Rights – Speech: Inter Court dialogue: how make closer the relations between the Courts – 28-29 Oct. 2019