Thursday, December 6, 2012

ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda pledges to fight gender and sexual-based violence

Fatou Bensouda, current ICC Chief Prosecutor

The current Chief Prosecutor of The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), Gambian Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, recently teamed up with the United Kingdom’s (UK) Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to fight gender and sexual based violence.
She was in London where she joined UK Foreign Secretary Mr. William Hague to mark the “International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders” and to support the UK Government’s initiative on “Preventing sexual violence in armed conflict”.  

The November 29, 2012 International Day on Women Human Rights Defenders, is a part of the 16 Day of Activism against Gender Violence worldwide campaign for 2012.

 “Mrs. Fatou Bensouda and the International Criminal Court are working together with the British Government to prevent sexual violence in conflict situations by increasing the number of perpetrators brought to justice before international courts,” the British High Commission in Banjul, The Gambia confirmed on November 6, 2012.

“The UK has also recently set up a team of experts who can deploy to conflict areas to work with the United Nations in investigating allegations of sexual violence,” it said, “The UK has also increased its funding to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to support UN efforts to strengthen national capacity to investigative, prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence and to protect survivors and witnesses.”

The initiative is being supported by UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie as well as a number of charities and NGO’s including Amnesty international, Save the Children and Human Rights Watch.  

Prior to Mrs. Bensouda’s meeting with Mr. Hague in London on November 29, she wrote a special blog-post for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office about the International Day on Women Human Rights Defenders

She wrote: “I join women human rights defenders around the world, who fight to put an end to gender violence and pledge my support for the right of all, of every woman, every girl, and every child to live a life free of violence”.

Her pledge is apparently a major boost to civil society organisations fighting for an end to gender violence.
“It is heartening to note the growing international support for this new initiative to highlight sexual violence in conflict and post conflict situations,” she said of the Steering Board of the British initiative on preventing sexual violence in armed conflict, of which her Office is a member. 

“This shows renewed commitment to correct the perception that sexual violence is an acceptable phenomenon of armed conflict and to ensure that these crimes are given the priority they deserve in investigations and prosecutions,” she added. 

She said the United Kingdom’s decision to commit resources and to use its G8 Presidency in 2013 to push for stronger international action on this crucial issue has taken the issue to a higher level.
Bensouda, who was sworn-in as ICC’s Chief Prosecutor in July 2012, said “strengthening investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender based crimes is a high priority for my Office.” 

She announces that a new Special Gender Adviser for the Office has been appointed and work has started on the development of a policy on sexual and gender based crimes. 

She also noted that her Office and partners like the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the UK’s initiative on preventing sexual violence in armed conflict are developing strategies to stop the scourge of sexual violence crimes and ensure that whenever these crimes occur, perpetrators are held accountable.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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