National courts remain the principal venue for holding individuals accountable for crimes of sexual violence. As noted in the present report, there have been a number of prosecutions of members of security forces and armed groups responsible for committing acts of sexual violence, including rape. National authorities should be supported to continue to fight impunity.
The focus of international criminal justice and mixed tribunals on combating acts of sexual violence, including rape, in the context of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, represents an important complement to national efforts. Crimes of sexual violence should be incorporated at the outset into the investigation and prosecution strategy. The issuance of a second arrest warrant in July 2012 for Bosco Ntaganda, the FARDC General and former Military Chief of Staff of the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple, represents an important shift in the treatment of sexual violence by the International Criminal Court. New charges against Ntaganda included the crimes against humanity of rape and sexual slavery and war crimes of intentional attacks against civilians, murder, rape and sexual slavery and pillage. In the Thomas Lubanga case, in contrast, the charges were limited to the recruitment and use of children, although there was ample evidence of sexual slavery and rape. The exclusion of charges related to sexual violence restricted the judges’ ability to render justice for the victims, as acknowledged by Judge Odio Benito in her dissenting opinion in the Lubanga judgement.
The trial in the International Criminal Court of Jean-Pierre Bemba, former Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and leader of the Mouvement de libération du Congo, in connection with events in the Central African Republic represents a critical test case for the principle of command responsibility for sexual violence as a war crime and a crime against humanity. Bemba has been indicted on four counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed between October 2002 and March 2003 in the Central African Republic.
In Cambodia, crimes of sexual violence, with the exception of forced marriage, have not been taken up by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a Cambodia-United Nations hybrid tribunal established under Cambodian law in 2004 to bring to justice senior leaders and those most responsible for atrocities committed between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979. Nor have sexual crimes been integrated into the forensic, investigative or prosecutorial strategies of the Extraordinary Chambers. According to the Extraordinary Chambers, the possibility of expanding the scope of charges against the accused to crimes beyond those in the indictment is precluded by its legal framework. In December 2011, a hearing on sexual violence under the Khmer Rouge regime revealed that sexual violence was a daily reality for most women, that acts of sexual violence were seldom punished and implicitly endorsed by an “enemy policy” promulgated by leaders at the highest levels and that survivors continue to suffer from trauma, discrimination and stigma. I reiterate the call made by my former Special Representative for the Government to ensure the rigorous documentation of such crimes for the historical record and for the Extraordinary Chambers to establish mechanisms for the appropriate recognition of and reparations for victims of sexual violence, as well as the effective prosecution of perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence and forced marriage.
The unique ability of the Security Council to impose targeted sanctions raises the stakes for perpetrators and, as such, is an important aspect of deterrence. On 31 December 2012, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo included on its list of individuals and entities subject to sanctions Lt. Col. Eric Badege and Jean-Marie Lugerero Runiga of M23. Both were designated for listing on the basis of serious violations of human rights. The Committee also designated FDLR and M23 for committing acts of violence, including sexual violence, against civilian populations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These actions follow the Committee’s designation on 30 November 2012 of two M23 leaders for serious violations of human rights and international law involving the targeting of women; its designation on 13 November of M23 leader Sultani Makenga for serious violations of international law, including sexual violence, involving the targeting of women and children; and its designation in December 2011 of Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka for having planned and ordered a series of attacks in Walikale in August 2010 in which children were raped and abducted. I encourage other sanctions committees of the Security Council — including, as appropriate, the committees concerning Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia, the Sudan and Al-Qaida (specifically with regard to the commission of sexual violence in Mali) — to focus on crimes of sexual violence. I encourage my Special Representative to submit the names of perpetrators to the relevant committees for possible designation.
International justice is as much about the hope, dignity and restoration of victims as it is about the accountability of perpetrators. Reparations (including restitution, compensation, satisfaction and rehabilitation) and guarantees of non-repetition are measures that aim to repair or redress the impact of harm caused to or crimes committed against individuals. A victim-centred approach is vital. It is noteworthy that although the defendant was not charged with crimes of sexual violence, the judgment on the Lubanga case includes specific guidance on reparations for victims of sexual violence. The implementation of this guidance in ways that specifically repair the immediate and longer-term harm experienced by victims of sexual violence in conflict is imperative in going forward.