UN: ICC calls for greater global coordination to end sexual, gender-based crimes

New York, US (PANA) - The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday called for greater coordination in global efforts to end sexual and gender-based crimes.

An ICC statement to mark the International Women's Day, said: "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."

It stressed that, these were serious crimes under international law and must be stopped.

It said the ICC was committed to holding perpetrators accountable and thereby helping to prevent these crimes, noting that, "ICC's 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," it stated.

In addition, the ICC offers important protections for victims and witnesses, particularly those who suffered sexual or gender violence, and 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.

The statement recalled that, in 2014, the Office of the ICC Prosecutor, 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 were systematically brought wherever there was sufficient evidence to support such charges.

It also noted that, investigating these crimes involved 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.

Others are lack of forensic or other documentary evidence, owing, for instance, to the passage of time, and inadequate or limited support services at national level.

The ICC said, in order to address these challenges, support from states and civil society was essential, saying: "Since the ICC complements national efforts to investigate and prosecute these crimes, increased cooperation will make efforts on both sides more efficient and effective."

It further added that, strengthened coordination was also essential with civil society organizations that worked with victims and documented these crimes.

"On this International Women's Day, the ICC calls for global support for eradicating sexual and gender-based crimes. Only when we unite in this effort, can we prevent these crimes," the statement said.
-0- PANA AA/MA 8March2016

08 march 2016 20:05:38

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