Crimes of sexual violence: Overcoming taboos, ending stigmatisation, fighting impunity

From 15 to 19 October 2007, FIDH invited 15 representatives of organisations working with victims of crimes of sexual violence, in Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Sudan and Central African Republic, to its permanent delegation at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This seminar brought together for the first time the range of actors working with victims of crimes of sexual violence: psychologists, lawyers and social workers, as well as representatives of the ICC, who were thus able to exchange without taboo and, above all, without concession. Access to justice is indeed, for many of these women and men, one of the first demands, as the participants clearly underlined in a meeting with the ICC Deputy Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

In fact, although the creation of the ICC was an important step forward in the fight against impunity for crimes of sexual violence, for many of the victims the arrest warrants thus far issued by the Court reveal a missed opportunity (see FIDH’s reactions in the cases of Thomas Lubanga and Germain Katanga).

Bernadette Sayo, President of OCODEFAD, FIDH’s member organisation in Central African Republic, underlined that: “This meeting is very important because it forces those working in international justice to confront the daily realities of victims of crimes of sexual violence, as well as those who support them, and in particular to face up to the risks they run and the pressures to which they are subjected”.

For further information on the issues addressed in this seminar, see FIDH position paper.

The conclusions, recommendations and strategies elaborated by the participants will shortly be published and made available on the FIDH website.

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