Today, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), released a comprehensive manual to identify best practices in the prosecution of sexual violence crimes in post-conflict regions. The manual draws on the OTP’s nearly 20-year experience in prosecuting sexual violence crimes perpetrated during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. During the Genocide, rape and other forms of sexual violence were used as a means to perpetrate genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The manual provides practical tips for other international and national prosecutors tasked with investigating and prosecuting similar crimes. It is divided into the three principal stages of prosecution: investigation, pre-trial and trial, and appeal and post-appeal. For each stage, the OTP shares lessons learnt from its experience—both what was done well and what could have been done better. It includes summaries of key recommendations, checklists, sample investigative plans, and outlines of legal elements and modes of liability to help guide future prosecutions.
The release of the manual coincides with the start of a two-day international workshop that ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow has convened in Kampala, Uganda, from 30 to 31 January 2014. Over 120 national and international prosecutors, judges, defence counsel, health professionals, victim and witness advocates, academics, and civil society groups have gathered at his invitation to collectively design a model training program built on the key recommendations contained in the manual. Chief justices, prosecutors general, and ministers of health from Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Burundi are among those attending. Judges, registrars, and prosecutors from international and regional courts, including the International Criminal Court, African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and Extraordinary African Chambers in the Courts of Senegal, also are participating in the workshop.
The workshop will focus on practical recommendations for implementing three components essential to closing the impunity gap that exists for sexual violence crimes, namely:
- Prevention—enhancing the role of women in policy and decision-making positions as a means of promoting more gender equality and decreasing gender-based violence.
- Prosecution—ensuring that, when gender-based violence occurs, those responsible will be identified and held accountable through fair and effective prosecution.
- Partnership—expanding the service network for the treatment of victims of sexual violence through partnerships with key stakeholders in the community, including government agencies and civil society.
The workshop is made possible by the generous support provided by our partner UN Women, and sponsors the Open Society Foundations, Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust, Government of Australia, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Additional support was provided by our host, the Republic of Uganda, and Platform for Social Justice.
The workshop and best practices manual are part of an on-going effort by Prosecutor Jallow to document and share lessons learnt in anticipation of the ICTR’s official closure next year. Last year, the OTP made available to national and international prosecutors a best practices manual on the tracking and arrest of fugitives, and contributed to a compendium of best practices related to the prosecution of mass atrocities complied by prosecutors for all of the international courts and tribunals. In the next few months, Prosecutor Jallow plans to release a best practices manual on the referral of international criminal cases to national jurisdictions for trial, and host a colloquium for international and national prosecutors on emerging issues in international criminal law. For these and other efforts to capture best practices in the prosecution of international crimes, the International Association of Prosecutors conferred its Special Achievement Award on the OTP in September 2013.
For additional information about the manual, workshop, and other legacy projects, please contact Mr. James J. Arguin, Chief, Appeals and Legal Advisory Division and Chair, ICTR Legacy Committee, at email@example.com.