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Dealing with conflict-related sexual violence against men and boys

Journalists for Justice / 31 March 2016

 


By Journalists For Justice

The Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI) has developed guidelines for investigating conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence against men and boys to help criminal-justice and human-rights investigators, reporters and monitors around the globe.

The issuance of the guidelines come barely a week after the International Criminal Court (ICC)  found former DRC Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba guilty of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape, and pillaging) committed during the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2001-2002. Bemba led the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC). Reports say more than 1,000 were raped.

For the first time in the Court’s history, sexual violence against men was charged as rape, as opposed to being subsumed under another crime such as torture.

In issuing the guidelines, institute hopes sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against men and boys that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and other egregious violations of international humanitarian, criminal and human-rights law will be fully and properly monitored, documented and investigated.

“It is hoped that such investigations will contribute to efforts to properly acknowledge and report, better understand and prevent, and ensure accountability and redress for conflict-related SGBV against men and boys,” says the institute.
The guidelines have been developed for both criminal-justice and human-rights professionals, ranging from international criminal investigators and prosecutors to national police officers, UN-human-rights officers and members and local human-rights reporters.

The institute says existing accountability-focused egregious-violation investigation frameworks, guidance, training resources and the like do not address Conflict Related SGBV (CRSGB) against men and boys comprehensively and in detail.

“That is unsurprising, seeing that the world's recognition of the pervasiveness, scale, forms and seriousness of CRSGBV against men and boys, though growing, remains sensitive and controversial. The varied nature and impacts, and the prevalence of such violations, are not yet widely studied and understood.
The guidelines are designed to complement existing relevant investigation frameworks and practices, including those that currently focus on CRSGBV against women and girls or children.

“Egregious-violation investigation agencies and organisations, and individual investigators
whose investigations frameworks and practices may not fully integrate and be attentive to CRSGBV against men and boys, can consider, modify and use these guidelines as they see fit,” says the institute.

 The 24-paged policy guide recommends that guidance concerning awareness of and sensitivity to CRSGBV against men and boys be systematically integrated in all facets and stages of egregious-violation investigations - and in associated institutional, strategic, policy, procedural and legal frameworks.

“Unless this is done, such SGBV, just like CRSGBV against women, girls and others, may not be spotted and properly investigated, documented and addressed,” it says.
With that recommendation, IICI says it does not in any way suggest any reduction in the attention given to CRSGBV against women and girls. On the contrary, it calls for increased attention on the diverse ways in which CRSGBV targets and impacts women, men, girls, boys and other sexual and gender identities. It also demands analyses of the different ways in which gender norms and gender identities underpin CRSGBV against all those categories of people.

Here are the guidelines: www.iici.info/uploads/docs/160229_IICI_InvestigationGuidelines_ConflictRelatedSGBVagainstMenBoys.pd
Read on Rape as a Weapon of War on Men:http://www.irinnews.org/report/93960/health-rape-%E2%80%9Cweapon-war%E2%80%9D-against-men

 

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By Terry Jeff Odhiambo

Gambia stands as a testament to the glacial progress Africa is making in the sphere of human rights. With the country on the mend and efforts under way to bring former President Yahya Jammeh to justice, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights could scarcely have found a better host country to hold its 30th anniversary.

The celebrations in Banjul, between November 1 and 4, 2017, come at a time of hope and restoration for the Gambia after the end of Jammeh’s 22-year dictatorial regime. Jammeh’s government was notorious for its disregard of international human rights norms despite ironically hosting the ACHPR. Arbitrary arrests, threats, enforced disappearances and torture were commonplace. There is still plenty of room for improvement. Attorney General Abubacarr Tambadou, who is also Justice Minister, told the opening of the 35th Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 61st Ordinary Session of the ACHPR that notwithstanding the various strides made by nations in the application of human rights instruments, the full enjoyment of basic rights and freedoms since the adoption of the African Charter, continues to face challenges. The Justice minister reiterated that the new government of Gambia had reaffirmed its commitment to protecting human rights and to living up to its position as the human rights capital of Africa. As recently as September 2017 the Gambia, signed five international treaties on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, including the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which seeks to abolish abolition the death penalty. In the coming months, Gambia is committed to ratifying more human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture, and adopting a new republican constitution within the shortest time possible and developing a system of justice that can look into past atrocities and sustain its democracy. The NGOs Forum, which is usually held on the margins of the ACHPR Ordinary Sessions, is a platform for fostering collaboration between civil society organisations on the one hand and the ACHPR on the other, with the aim of promoting and protecting human rights in Africa.

Human rights abuses in Africa are a sad reality. The tableau of human suffering on the continent is scar on humanity’s conscience. From South Sudan[1], to the Central African Republic[2] to Egypt[3] and Ethiopia[4], abuses are increasingly being witnessed more than ever before. As one of the bulwarks against this depressing trend, the work of the ACHPR since its inception calls for evaluation. The promise by states and governments to guarantee human dignity and rights – through almost universal endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ever-increasing ratification of international human rights treaties – seems to have had little impact on the daily lives of millions of people in the region.

The sad reality is that the human rights situation in various African countries continues to deteriorate on the ACHPR’s watch. There has been an escalation of threats to the enjoyment of human rights on the continent, ranging from arbitrary arrests, infringement of freedom of association and assembly, police brutality and threats to human rights defenders. 

Since the inception of the ACHPR, seven states have never reported on the situation of human rights to the commission. The states -- Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and South Sudan -- continue to witness some of gravest human rights violations on the continent. Twenty other states have three or more pending state reports -- including Gambia, while 16 other states have one or two pending state reports. Only nine states, namely Kenya, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger and South Africa are up to date with their state reporting obligations. The Democratic Republic of Congo[5], Rwanda[6] and Niger[7] are set to report during the 61st Ordinary Session of the ACHPR. State reporting procedure is a stock taking that serves as a forum for constructive dialogue and enables the Commission to monitor implementation of the African Charter and identify challenges impeding the realisation of the objects of the African Charter.

Some of the critiques that the Commission has received over time include the failure to implement its findings, such as decisions on: individual communications, concluding observations on State reports, country and thematic resolutions, and recommendations made in relation to missions to countries. 

The 61st Ordinary Session of the ACHPR will see the swearing in of new commissioners and the exit of those whose terms have ended. The ACHPR is composed of 11 Commissioners, who are “chosen from amongst African personalities of the highest reputation, known for their high morality, integrity, impartiality and competence in matters of human and peoples’ rights; particular consideration being given to persons having legal experience” (African Charter, Article 31).[8] They are elected by the African Union Assembly from experts nominated by States parties to the Charter. The Commissioners serve in their personal capacity and are elected for a six-year renewable term.

The upcoming 30th Anniversary celebrations are an opportunity to reaffirm the values and enduring principles enshrined in the African Charter mobilize people around the continent, and take stock of human rights today in Africa. 

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