This International Women's Day, 8 March 2016, the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") calls for greater coordination in global efforts to end sexual and gender-based crimes.
Women bear the brunt of sexual and gender-based crimes during armed conflict; the sad reality is that rape and other forms of sexual violence are still used as a systematic tool of war in many conflicts around the world. These are serious crimes under international law and must be stopped.
The ICC is committed to holding perpetrators accountable and thereby helping to prevent these crimes. Its founding treaty, the
Rome Statute, includes sexual and gender-based crimes in the definitions of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. These include rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, forcible prostitution and gender-based persecution. To date, charges of sexual and gender-based crimes have been brought in 70 percent of the cases at the ICC.
In addition, the Court offers important protections for victims and witnesses, particularly those who suffered sexual or gender violence. The Rules of Procedure and Evidence are designed to shield victims of sexual violence from irrelevant and offensive questioning and intrusive attacks during court proceedings. The Rome Statute also has a number of requirements in order to ensure fair representation of women in the Court and the appointment of individuals with specific expertise on gender and sexual violence.
In 2014, the
Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, in line with one of its key strategic goals, issued a comprehensive
Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes to ensure that charges for such crimes are systematically brought wherever there is sufficient evidence to support such charges. Investigating these crimes involve specific challenges, including the under- or non- reporting owing to societal, cultural, or religious factors; stigma for victims; limited domestic investigations, and the associated lack of readily available evidence; lack of forensic or other documentary evidence, owing, for instance, to the passage of time; and inadequate or limited support services at national level.
In order to address these challenges, support from states and civil society is essential. Since the ICC complements national efforts to investigate and prosecute these crimes, increased cooperation will make efforts on both sides more efficient and effective. Strengthened coordination is also essential with civil society organizations that work with victims and document these crimes.
On this International Women's Day, the Court calls for global support for eradicating sexual and gender-based crimes. Only when we unite in this effort, can we prevent these crimes.
For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: [email protected].
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