OCTOBER 2, 2009: UN Encourages Accountability for Gender Based Violence

New UN Measure to Encourage Accountability for Sexual Violence

SOURCE: America.gov

By Stephen Kaufman

U.S. officials hope provisions in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1888, passed to help protect women in conflict zones from violence, will also enable victims to come forward as witnesses in post-conflict situations when their testimony is needed to make criminals accountable for their actions.

 In remarks at the State Department October 2, Stephen Rapp, U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, and Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, said it is critical that human rights violators, such as those who commit rape as a tactic of war, be held responsible for their crimes if such practices are to stop.

"If you don't hold people to account for these kind of offenses, they'll be repeated. This will be a tool, a technique, to intimidate the population, in order to keep people in power, in order to gain power," Rapp said.

Along with the appointment of a special U.N. representative to lead efforts against sexual violence in armed conflicts, Resolution 1888 also calls for a team of experts to be deployed in countries where sexual violence has occurred or is likely to occur.

The team would include medical experts, rule of law specialists, and "people that know about security and detention and witness protection," Rapp said.

These specialists would identify ways to fix problems in the country's domestic judicial processes and help to establish accountability for sexual crimes, he said.

Even if a country has a good court system, with competent judges and prosecutors, "if the witnesses won't come because they're intimidated or killed on their way, if you convict people and they escape ... and they go back and harass and commit the crimes again, you don't solve the problem," Rapp said...

For the full story, please see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200910051522.html