Newly Appointed Independent Expert on the Protection Against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Earlier this week, the President of the Human Rights Council (HRC) formally recommended Victor Madrigal-Borloz for the appointment of the new Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (IE SOGI). Barring any unforeseen complications, Madrigal-Borloz will be confirmed by the Council on December 4th 2017.

Building on the precedent set by his predecessor Vitit Muntarbhorn, Mr. Madrigal-Borloz will be tasked with assessing the implementation of existing international human rights law, raising awareness of violence and discrimination based on SOGI, engaging in dialogue and consultation with States and other stakeholders, and providing advisory services and technical assistance to help address violence and discrimination against LGBTI people.

Madrigal-Borloz is a Costa-Rican jurist residing in Copenhagen and while his expertise lies more broadly in torture prevention, accountability and rehabilitation, much of his work has looked at these issues through the lens of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) concerns. For instance, as a former member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, he oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons through criminalization, forced anal examinations, deliberate under-processing of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes by authorities, and non-consensual surgical interventions on intersex children. The text was eventually published in the Subcommittee’s Annual Report in 2016. Additionally, having spent nine years at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Madrigal-Borloz has worked on numerous LGBTI-related cases, reports and testimonies.

The new Independent Expert’s background is also ideal in that he has collaborated extensively with not just State parties and private institutions but with civil society as well. Having been a lawyer with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Madrigal-Borloz has partnered with civil society advocates to investigate allegations of State non-compliance and international human rights violations. He currently serves as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), an international non-profit organization which advocates for holistic rehabilitation for all victims of torture.

While OutRight shares the HRC President’s concern regarding the lack of female candidates who applied for this position, as civil society stakeholders, we look forward to continued engagement with the IE SOGI and to the ongoing momentum of his mandate.


1 President’s letter of 20 November 2017 with the candidate proposed for appointment, OHCHR

2 Ninth Annual Report of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (2016)