Sexual violence in CAR | Ensuring victims' rights | Bashir shunned

“Karin,” a 15-year-old girl in Obo who was eight months pregnant at the time of photo. She told Human Rights Watch that a Ugandan soldier paid her up to 5,000 CFA (approximately $8.30 USD) to be his local “wife.” ©2017 Lewis Mudge/Human Rights Watch

Ugandan troops accused of sexual violence in Central African Republic

13 women and girls in the Central African Republic (CAR) have accused Ugandan troops of sexual exploitation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported. According to the report, the cases likely represent only a small portion of the complete magnitude of sexual abuses being committed in the CAR since 2011 by members of the African Union (AU) Regional Task Force for the elimination of the LRA (RCI-LRA).

Human rights activists are demanding that Uganda and the AU investigate and prosecute the alleged sexual and gender-based crimes, including sexual exploitation and rape. The commission of sexual violence in conflict in the CAR was the subject of a United Nations (UN) Security Council open debate on 15 May based on the most recent report of the  Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence.

A UN convoy, a UN field office and hundreds of civilians have been the targets of a series of attacks in the CAR over the last week, leading several international aid groups to contemplate temporarily withdrawing from the country for the safety of their workers.

Human rights activists have simultaneously been denouncing alleged acts of torture and violence in Uganda by police forces against detainees. Similar accusations in the past led to the dissolution of entire police units, without however, a clear assessment of the individual responsibilities for the crimes.

Meanwhile, communities in Uganda affected by the Lord's Resistance Army are lamenting lost opportunities in their own pursuit of justice as the search for LRA leader Joseph Kony winds down.

Read what this means for Kony's victims.


Victims' rights center-stage at Trust Fund for Victims

Although tens of thousands of victims have already benefitted from Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) programs in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), many victims in countries such as Kenya remain unassisted. 

With this in mind, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been joining civil society's call for ramped-up support to the TFV, asking states to collaborate in addressing the financial, political and logistical constraints preventing the Fund from delivering the full potential of its mandate.

“We must not let victims remain in the past, trapped in suffering. Make them part of the future," stated Motoo Noguchi, Chairman, TFV Board of Directors. "The resilience of victims and their ability to overcome unimaginable harm should be the foundation for a just and peaceful society, built on shared trust and confidence in the future."  

Read up on the civil society actions aiming to raise awareness of and support for the Trust Fund.


ICC suspect al-Bashir shunned in Qatar

US, Canadian and Australian diplomats have boycotted the opening ceremony of a humanitarian conference in Qatar in response to the attendance of Sudanese President and ICC fugitive Omar al-Bashir, wanted for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Reports have also been circulating that al-Bashir has been invited to attend a Saudi Arabian summit this weekend alongside US President Donald Trump - an act that human rights advocates have claimed would be a "destructive breach of longstanding American policy".

Get the low-down on South Africa's ICC appearance for not arresting al-Bashir.

Read why al-Bashir should have been arrested at the Arab League Summit.


ICC investigations

DRC: The Congolese Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) has warned that the recent spate of violence and concerns of militia interference could result in the presidential election being postponed once again.

Libya: The ICC has announced that it is considering opening an investigation into crimes allegedly committed against migrants in Libya, including the trafficking and selling of victims from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and The Gambia.

Mali: The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has called for international reinforcement of the UN stabilization mission in Mali as inter-community clashes and armed group abuses pose a threat to the country's security.


ICC preliminary examinations

Afghanistan: An unexploded mortar round killed five Afghan boys on Sunday, adding to the recent increase of conflict-related child deaths in the region.

Ukraine: Claims of Russia-backed separatists firing rounds has reportedly left four civilians dead in the eastern Donetsk Oblast province — one of the regions where the Human Rights Information Centre has stated people continue to go missing with no concrete investigation.


Campaign for Global Justice

In the wake of unprecedented levels of persecution and threats faced by human rights defenders around the world, Amnesty International has launched a global campaign seeking to end the violence.

Argentina's Congress has passed a law preventing the early release of human rights abusers convicted for acts committed during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

In the face of a rape acquittal for Chad’s former president, critics argue that the acquittal represents a worrying trend in national legal systems that are shown to be persistently unable or unwilling to adequately handle issues of sexual and gender-based crimes.

In what is thought to be the first of its kind involving war crimes in Austria, a national court has issued a life-sentence to an asylum-seeker found guilty of killing 20 unarmed or wounded soldiers in the aftermath of a battle in Syria.

Deemed “forgotten victims” of conflict, human rights defenders call for increased prosecution for crimes against persons with disabilities and highlight the need to enhance protections and access to aid.


Around the world

After a failed impeachment, human rights defenders and opposition leaders in the Philippines are considering an ICC referral against President Duterte regarding the alleged extrajudicial killings linked to his administration.

In its annual report on sexual violence in conflict, the UN has highlighted issues of inadequate access to safe reproductive healthcare for victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

The UN Human Rights Council is preparing for the predicted mass increase of displaced Yemenis fleeing the hostilities taking place there.

Rights groups have been advocating for increased protections of basic rights for migrant workers in Lebanon ­– criticized by some as modern day “slave-labour – in the wake of suicides and botched escape attempts due to exploitative conditions.


Which global justice news stories have caught your eye this week? Let us know in the comment box below.