United Nations

A/51/557


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

25 October 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/51/557
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Agenda item 110 (c)


             HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:  HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS AND
              REPORTS OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS AND REPRESENTATIVES

            Rape and abuse of women in the areas of armed conflict
                           in the former Yugoslavia

                        Report of the Secretary-General


                                   CONTENTS
                                                             Paragraphs Page

 I.   INTRODUCTION ...........................................  1 - 5     2

II.   ACTION BY UNITED NATIONS BODIES OR ORGANIZATIONS .......  6 - 26    2

      A. Commission on Human Rights  .........................  6 - 8     2

      B. Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and
         Protection of Minorities  ...........................  9 - 11    3

      C. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
         Refugees      ........................................12 - 17    3

      D. International Tribunal for the Prosecution of
         Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of
         International Humanitarian Law Committed in the
         Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991  ...... 18 - 26    5

III.  RESPONSE OF NON-UNITED NATIONS ACTORS .................. 27 - 30    8

      A. International Committee of the Red Cross  ...........     27     8

      B. European Community Task Force  ......................  28 - 30   8

IV.   CONCLUDING REMARKS .....................................  31 - 33   9


                               I.  INTRODUCTION


1.   At its fiftieth session, the General Assembly adopted, without a
vote, resolution 50/192 of 22 December 1995, entitled "Rape and abuse
of women in the areas of armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia".

2.   In that resolution, the General Assembly strongly condemned the
abhorrent practice of rape and abuse of women and children in the area
of armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia and reaffirmed that rape in
the conduct of armed conflict constituted a war crime and that under
certain circumstances it constituted a crime against humanity and an
act of genocide as defined in the Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

3.   It is important to note that, in the above-mentioned resolution,
the General Assembly strongly emphasized the question of individual
responsibility.  It reaffirmed that persons who perpetrated or
authorized the perpetration of crimes against humanity or other
violations of international humanitarian law were individually
responsible for those violations and that those in positions of
authority who had failed to ensure that persons under their control
complied with the relevant international instruments were accountable,
together with the perpetrators.

4.   In the same resolution, the General Assembly reminded, for the
purpose of accountability, all States of their obligation to cooperate
with the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons
Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law
Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, and it
urged all States and relevant organizations to give serious
consideration to the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur of the
Commission on Human Rights regarding medical care and psychological
assistance to victims of rape as well as to witnesses for their
psychological and mental rehabilitation.

5.   In conclusion, the General Assembly encouraged the Special
Rapporteur to continue to pay particular attention to the use of rape
as a weapon of war particularly in the Republic of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, and requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on
the implementation of the resolution.  The present report is submitted
in accordance with that request.


             II.  ACTION BY UNITED NATIONS BODIES OR ORGANIZATIONS

                        A.  Commission on Human Rights

6.   The Commission on Human Rights expressed its profound concern for
raped and abused women in the former Yugoslavia during its sessions in
1994, 1995 and 1996.  At its fifty-second session, the Commission, in
its resolution 1996/71, of 23 April 1996 expressed its outrage that
the abominable, deliberate and systematic practice of rape had been
used as a weapon of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognized that
rape in the context of armed conflict constituted a war crime and
called for the protection and care of rape victims, respect for the
special needs of victims of sexual violence in the investigation and
prosecution of alleged violations and punishment of those responsible.

7.   The Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights has
remained very attentive to the issue of rape and abuse of women in the
territory of the former Yugoslavia.  Information on all types of human
rights abuses is systematically gathered by the Human Rights Field
Operation in the Former Yugoslavia and made available to the Special
Rapporteur.  It should be noted that, in recent months, very few
allegations on abuse of women have been made.

8.   In the course of 1994 and 1995, reports of rape as an instrument
of war continued to be received, but the scale of such incidents,
compared with 1992 and 1993, diminished.  During 1996, the Special
Rapporteur received some allegations of rape incidents, although it
would appear prima facie that those cases do not fall within the
context of systematic and concerted practices.


B.  Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
                 
9.   At its forty-eighth session, the Subcommission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities considered the preliminary
report of its Special Rapporteur on the situation of systematic rape,
sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during periods of armed
conflict (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1996/26).

10.     In her conclusions and recommendations, the Special Rapporteur
stated that although a substantial body of international law relating
to systematic rape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during
war time existed, there was a need for further inquiry on how the
international legal standards could be applied to prevent further
violations as well as the manner in which those standards could be
invoked to provide remedies for victims.

11.     Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur addressed the issue of
assistance and understanding to the victims of these atrocities since
they suffered long-term consequences, stating that:  "Reasons for
reluctance to report wartime rape may include shame and social stigma,
fear of awakening bad memories, fear of reprisals, a lack of trust in
the judicial system and the national legislature and the belief in the
absence of remedies".


C.  Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees                
                 
12.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) has been extensively involved in providing assistance and
social services in the territory of the former Yugoslavia to refugees
and displaced persons affected by the conflict.  UNHCR has established
community-based projects, managed by non-governmental organizations,
which are directed towards a general group of beneficiaries such as
victims of rape and abused women.

13.  The main UNHCR community project is based in Bosnia and
Herzegovina and includes approximately 30 assistance centres.  The
others are in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia
and Montenegro).

14.  UNHCR gives priority to all survivors of rape and abused women in
the former Yugoslavia in terms of protection and assistance in the
form of food distribution, shelter, non-food items, health including
reproductive health care, education and community mobilization
activities.  The community-based programmes in Bosnia and Herzegovina
include psychological support and counselling services.

15.  Particular projects supported by UNHCR in Bosnia and Herzegovina
through local non-governmental organizations are:

     (a) "Zena", presently run by Bosnian women implementing
occupational and income generating activities with war
traumatized/displaced women and female ex-detainees in East Mostar and
Celebici;

     (b) "Zena 21", also run by Bosnian women, operates a 24-hour
emergency telephone line offering immediate professional psychological
assistance to persons in distress in the Sarajevo vicinity;

     (c) "Stope Nade" is the local counterpart of the international
non-governmental organization "Marie Stopes International".  It runs
women's support centres in Bihac, Sarajevo, southern Bosnia and
western Herzegovina and offers occupational and therapeutic activities
for survivors of rape;

     (d) "Bosfam" directs eight women's centres in the Tuzla area.  It
offers counselling to rape survivors;

     (e) "Plavi Most" provides community-based home visiting services
to families with one or more members who are survivors of physical
violence and rape.

16.  UNHCR has been provided with $5 million by the Government of the
United States of America to operate a project for Bosnian women.  This
initiative includes micro-credit programmes, micro-enterprise
development, psycho-social support, child and elderly care and support
for women survivors of violence so as to enable them to engage in
much-needed income generating activities and to participate in the
reconstruction and revitalization of the economy of Bosnia.  The
project also seeks to discourage migration of rural women to urban
centres. 

17.  In 1995, UNHCR published guidelines on prevention and response to
sexual violence against refugees and guidelines on evaluation and care
of victims of trauma and violence.  The guidelines are designed to
assist the international community and field staff to understand how
sexual violence can be prevented and suggests numerous measures
involving educational training.


D.  International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons
    Responsible for Serious Violations of International  
    Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the   
    Former Yugoslavia since 1991                         

18.  The International Tribunal was established by the Security Council
in its resolution 808 (1993) of 22 February 1993.  It is mandated to
prosecute serious violations of humanitarian law perpetrated in the
former Yugoslavia since January 1991.

19.  In accordance with the Statute, the Office of the Prosecutor is
requested, in pursuance of its articles 2 to 5, to investigate and
prosecute sexual assaults as serious violations of international
humanitarian law.  This mandate is underlined by paragraph 11 of the
Secretary-General's report in response to paragraph 2 of Security
Council resolution 808 (1993) (S/25704), in which the Secretary-
General recalled that the Security Council had condemned "the practice
of 'ethnic cleansing' and the massive, organized and systematic
detention and rape of women, and reaffirmed that those who commit or
have committed or order or have ordered the commission of such acts
will be held individually responsible in respect of such acts". 
Furthermore, article 5 (g) of the Tribunal's Statute includes rape as
a crime against humanity.

20.  The Office of the Prosecutor is currently undertaking
investigations into serious violations of humanitarian law committed
in the former Yugoslavia, specifically sexual assaults.  These
investigations cover sexual assaults perpetrated against women, men or
minors during military take-overs in detention centres and camps.

21.  On 26 June 1996, the International Tribunal issued an indictment
against Dragan Gagovic.  This case is of major legal significance
since it is the first indictment dealing specifically with sexual
offences.

22.  In accordance with the information provided by the International
Criminal Tribunal, 22 per cent of all counts charged by the Office of
the Prosecutor concerned sexual assaults; 41 per cent of those
indicted by the Office of the Prosecutor have been charged inter alia
with sexual assaults; 50 per cent of all persons in positions of
superior authority indicted by the Office of the Prosecutor have been
charged with sexual assaults committed by their subordinates; and
18 per cent of all persons in position of superior authority indicted
by the Office of the Prosecutor have been individually charged for
sexual assault.

23.  Since its inception, the Office of the Prosecutor has taken
several measures related to the presence of female staff at the
International Tribunal.  In this regard, the appointment of a Legal
Adviser for Gender Issues to oversee the implementation of its gender
policy and the prosecution of sex related crimes should be mentioned. 
Furthermore, the establishment of gender investigation teams,
including those specifically formed to look into sexual assault,
should also be mentioned as a part of the overall prosecution
strategy.

24.  In resolution 50/192, the General Assembly stressed the need for
protection of victims and witnesses of such cases.  The Office of the
Prosecutor, in accordance with the Statute of the International
Tribunal, is concerned with protecting the identity of victims of
sexual assault for reasons of safety and privacy.  Consequently, a
Victims and Witnesses Unit was established by the International
Tribunal pursuant to article 22 of the Statute and rule 34 of the
Rules of Procedures and Evidence.  Its main responsibility is to
recommend measures for the protection of victims and witnesses who
will be heard by the International Tribunal and provides such persons
with counselling and support.

25.  It has been decided that, in the area of protection, the judges of
the International Tribunal can grant special measures in and outside
the courtroom both before and during a trial to protect witnesses who
satisfy the judges that they and/or their family are at risk because
of their testimony.  These special measures, which have to be
consistent with the rights of the accused, are set out in articles 69,
75 and 79 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Tribunal. 
They have been implemented in several decisions of the Trial Chamber
granting protection to witnesses.

26.  The Trial Chamber may order:

     (a) That the identity of a witness may not be disclosed to the
public and the media.  In this case, a witness may be given a
pseudonym, which will be used in all trial proceedings and when the
trial is being discussed by all parties;

     (b) The name of the witness can be removed from all existing
court documents;

     (c) The name, address and whereabouts and other information that
may identify a witness can be withheld from the public and the media;

     (d) This identifying information can be sealed and not included
in any of the Public Records of the International Tribunal;

     (e) The public and the media can be ordered not to photograph,
video record or sketch a witness while he/she is at the International
Tribunal;

     (f) Voice and image altering devices can be used to change the
appearance of a witness on court television screens and/or the sound
of the voice of a witness, and screens can be placed around a witness
so that he/she is not recognized by the general public;

     (g) A witness may be permitted to give evidence in camera. 
Therefore, the court sessions are closed to the public and only the
accused, the judges, lawyers and court officials are present in the
courtroom;

     (h) For vulnerable witnesses, such as in a case of sexual
assault, evidence may be provided from a separate room at the court,
through a one-way closed television circuit, to spare a witness from
having to see the accused.  Under these circumstances, the judge is in
a position to see the faces of the witness on a television screen
placed on his/her desk and the witness is able to follow the
proceedings in the courtroom;

     (i) In highly exceptional circumstances, a witness may be granted
anonymity, and the name and other identifying data may be withheld
from the accused and his/her lawyer;

     (j) In exceptional circumstances, a witness may be able to give
evidence before the start of the trial by way of deposition
(article 71 of the Rules of Procedures and Evidence of the Tribunal). 
Therefore, the witness does not have to travel to The Hague but can be
questioned somewhere else by the Tribunal lawyers.  The witnesses may
also be cross-examined under the same procedure.  The proceedings will
be recorded, at least on audio tape;

     (k) During a trial, a witness may in exceptional circumstances,
give evidence in his/her own country by way of a live video link,
called "video conference".  In this case the judges will be able to
examine the witness, in addition to lawyers for the defence and
prosecution;

     (l) Many of the measures stated above have already been
implemented.  On 10 August 1995, the Trial Chamber agreed that the
situation of a number of witnesses in the International Tribunal's
first trial - the case of Dusko Tadic - called for the imposition of
special protective measures.  Special measures to protect witnesses
cannot be applied unless ordered by the Trial Chamber.  A witness, the
lawyer for the case, or the Victims and Witnesses Unit can apply to
the court giving specific reasons why any of these measures are
required for the protection of a witness;

     (m) The Victims and Witnesses Unit has a permanent position of a
protection officer, who is responsible to coordinate responses to
witness security requirements.  The current Protection Officer is a
former police officer who has had many years of experience in witness
protection at the international level;

     (n) Security of a witness while in the Netherlands is the
responsibility of the Government of the Netherlands, and experience
has shown that, where necessary, very high-level and competent local
police protection must be provided;

     (o) Security for a witness within the International Tribunal is a
United Nations responsibility and is provided by the security officers
employed by the International Tribunal;

     (p) When necessary, a witness is collected from the airport and
directed to his/her accommodations by the Victims and Witnesses Unit
staff.  Each accommodation site has been carefully checked and it
receives a 24-hour attention from the authorities of the Netherlands;

     (q) Where the safety of a witness travelling to the International
Tribunal gives rise for concern, local police of the country of
residence are requested, through governmental channels when necessary,
to ensure that adequate protection and assistance is provided to the
witness travelling to the International Tribunal.  To that end, the
Victims and Witnesses Unit has compiled a network of contacts in
countries where witnesses reside.  This network can also be called
upon if a witness fears security problems on his/her return to the
country of residence;

     (r) Negotiations are currently in process to facilitate the
temporary or permanent relocation of witnesses;

     (s) The Victims and Witnesses Unit provides a Support Officer to
assist the witnesses while they are in the Netherlands;

     (t) This programme of support includes:

     (i) Coordination of arrangements to ensure that all witnesses are
         equipped with adequate documentation to travel to the
         Netherlands and to re-enter their country of residence;

    (ii) Provision of health and travel insurance for all witnesses
         attending the proceedings of the Tribunal;

   (iii) Accommodations, where the Victims and Witnesses Unit provides
         a 24-hour support programme;

    (iv) An induction programme to the mechanics of the Court and a
         video showing an actual court session.


                  III.  RESPONSE OF NON-UNITED NATIONS ACTORS

                 A.  International Committee of the Red Cross

27.  The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is confined in
its activities, as far as this matter is concerned, to the provision
of emergency aid to people caught in situations of armed conflict. 
Consequently, ICRC has established programmes for immediate
assistance, such as hospitals with surgical supplies and basic
medicines, but is not involved in psychological treatment programmes,
whether for rape victims or otherwise.


                       B.  European Community Task Force

28.  The European Community Task Force, established in October 1992,
coordinates food, medical and other assistance, including activities
related to psychological and social help.

29.  The European Community supports 22 international psychological and
social assistance organizations, which include programmes for
traumatized children and women in the region of Bihac and in Sarajevo,
Mostar and Tuzla.  Projects for victims of war have also been
implemented in Eastern Slavonia, the southern Dalmatian Coast and
Zagreb.

30.  The European Community Task Force has prepared a manual entitled
"Theory and Practice of Psycho-social Projects under War Conditions in
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia".


                            IV.  CONCLUDING REMARKS

31.  From the information available, only sporadic cases of rape and
sexual violence have occurred since the last report of the
Secretary-General (A/50/329).  It would appear prima facie that those
cases do not fall within the context of systematic and concerted
practices.

32.  It must be kept in mind, however, that reports of sexual assault
are difficult to obtain in view of the victims' reluctance to describe
such experiences since they implicitly carry with them social stigma
and fear of reprisals.

33.  Although the international community has responded to the need for
investigation, continuing attention must be given to preventive and
curative measures.  Since the situation in many parts of former
Yugoslavia remains unstable, it will be necessary for the
international community to remain vigilant and to implement special
protective measures for women and children.  Programmes of protection
and assistance for victims and witnesses must be strengthened in order
to build confidence for the future.


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