The Human Rights Center has launched a first-ever series of studies that assess accountability and response measures for sexual violence in countries marked by recent armed conflict and/or political violence.
The first region of examination is Africa. Our first three countries of focus have been Kenya, Liberia, and Uganda. Future case studies may focus on Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, or eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Through our case studies, we are examining:
- Access to justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence – during peace time as well as during conflict periods;
- Effectiveness of response mechanisms in both health and legal sectors: legislation, jurisprudence, clinical response, investigations, prosecutions, etc;
- Availability of victim support / witness protection measures, including the provision of psychosocial services for victims;
- Extent and quality of coordination between civil society organizations and government agencies;
- Disparities between urban and rural response capacities; and
- Nature and impact of community or traditional justice systems upon reporting and willingness to engage the formal justice system.
The studies will recommend policy measures and “best practices” for improved accountability for sex crimes and care for survivors – including in the context of armed conflict. Study findings are presented to government and civil society representatives in each country, as well as to donors and other international actors.
Our research on accountability for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence is made possible by the generosity of the International Women’s Program of the Open Society Foundation, Humanity United, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Our in-depth examination of Kenya’s 2006 Sexual Offences Act culminated in an historic, cross-sectoral convening in May, 2011. Nearly 100 key government and civil society actors from legal, health, community justice, and forensic fields met to discuss critical challenges and potential strategies to improve protection and care for survivors. The Workshop Reports provided a blueprint for meaningful law and policy reform in Kenya, as well as an anatomy of a Sexual Offences Act for other countries to consider.