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Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: What have we learnt?

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has been at the forefront of advancing international criminal law with respect to the prosecution of those accused of crimes of sexual and gender-based violence during conflict.

As the work of the ICTY draws to a close the prosecutors have considered the legacy and lessons of their experience, and produced Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (OUP, 2016).

Inspired by the book and the accompanying PSV Network, this conference shone a spotlight on experiences and challenges in prosecuting sexual violence crimes at the ICTY and beyond.

Prosecutors, judges, advocates and practitioners will reflect on lessons learned from international, regional and hybrid tribunals and highlight specific experience from local jurisdictions.

The conference featured speakers, discussions and films on the following:

  • Challenges in investigating and prosecuting at the international level
  • Limitations in the legal framework
  • Experiences from international tribunals and national courts
  • Reparations and transformative justice

Podcasts and Films 

The Challenge of Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Crimes
Keynote: Michelle Jarvis 
Listen to the podcast 

Challenges in Investigating and Prosecuting at the International Level
Patricia Sellers and Maxine Marcus; Chair: Christine Chinkin
Listen to the podcast

Testimonies from victims giving evidence to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Extracts shown by Michelle Jarvis in her keynote
Watch the film

No Longer Silent
With permission of the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, conference participants were shown this film, which features testimonies of women abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda. The film is one of a series highlighting sexual and gender-based violence and other gender issues in armed conflicts, fragile states and post-conflict environments.
Watch the film
More films from the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice

Truth and Justice for the Women of Guatemala
As part of her presentation, Teresa Fernández Paredes from Women’s Link Worldwide showed this film, telling the story of how, for the first time in the country, survivors’ stories of sexual violence were framed as international crimes, rather than as "collateral damage" inherent in armed conflicts. 
Watch the film

Speakers 

Laurel Baig

Laurel Baig is Senior Appeals Counsel at the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunal. She previously worked for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda and for the Special Court for Sierra Leone. She was an active contributor to the ICTY Prosecution's legacy project on prosecuting sexual violence crimes. She is a co-focal point for the Prosecuting Sexual Violence Network of the International Association of Prosecutors, a member of the Justice Rapid Response Sexual and Gender Based Violence Investigations Roster, and co-chair of the Editorial Committee of the Journal of International Criminal Justice. She holds a Master of Laws from the London School of Economics.

 
Teresa Fernández Paredes

Teresa Fernández Paredes is a senior attorney at Women’s Link Worldwide. Before joining Women’s Link, Teresa worked in the criminal law department of the Garrigues law firm (Spain). She interned at the Center for Justice and International Law (Washington DC, United States) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Costa Rica). She has also interned for Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the Justice Department at Human Rights Watch (Brussels, Belgium). She holds a double major in Law and Political Science, a degree in Human Rights and Women: Theory and Practice, and a Master’s degree in International Public Law.

 
Carla Ferstman

Carla Ferstman is Director of REDRESS, a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice and reparation. Carla is a regular commentator on victims' rights, the International Criminal Court and the prohibition against torture. Prior to joining REDRESS she worked with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in post-genocide Rwanda, with Amnesty International's International Secretariat as a legal researcher on trials in Central Africa and as Executive Legal Advisor to Bosnia and Herzegovina's Commission for Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees.

 

Priya Gopalan has worked at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in various capacities and as a litigator both nationally and internationally. During her seven years at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, she prosecuted war crimes at the trial and appellate levels. She contributed to Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence at the ICTY (OUP, 2016) the publication documenting the ICTY’s legacy of investigating and prosecuting sexual violence crimes.

 
Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović

Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović is a senior legal adviser at TRIAL's (Track Impunity Always) Bosnia and Herzegovina office. Before joining TRIAL, she practiced law and provided expertise to the B&H Parliamentary Assembly and, as UNDP national legal expert, to the Human Rights Ombudsmen Institution. She provides legal consultancy services to other NGO's, conducting research and publishing papers, with a focus on international human rights standards, transitional justice, constitutional and anti-discrimination law. Adrijana holds a Law Degree and has, as a French Government Scholarship holder, received a Master's Degree in Public International Law from the University of Strasbourg.

 
Michelle Jarvis

Michelle Jarvis is Principal Legal Counsel and Deputy to the Prosecutor at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Michelle has overseen the Office of the Prosecutor's legacy project on prosecuting sexual violence crimes, and is co-editor of Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence at the ICTY (2016, OUP). She is the Coordinator of the Prosecuting Sexual Violence Network of the International Association of Prosecutors, and a trainer for the Justice Rapid Response Sexual and Gender Based Violence Investigations certification course. She served as an expert advisor for the UK Preventing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Initiative.

 
Daniela Kravetz

Daniela Kravetz is an international criminal justice and gender practitioner. She currently works as a consultant for different agencies, including UN Women, and focuses on strengthening the capacity of domestic jurisdictions to address conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. She also regularly provides training to legal practitioners on the use of international criminal law to promote women’s human rights, in particular in post-conflict countries. Previously, she worked for nine years as a prosecutor at the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor. She was also an active contributor to this Office’s legacy project on prosecuting conflict-related sexual violence crimes, Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence at the ICTY (2016, OUP)

 
Maxine Marcus

Maxine Marcus is a criminal prosecutor and investigator with extensive experience in the international justice sector. She was a prosecuting attorney at the ICTY, and investigating attorney in the Special Court for Sierra Leone. She served on the UN Commission of Inquiry for Guinea, as an adviser to the UK on the Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative and the Protocol on Documentation of Sexual Violence in Conflict. She was SGBV advisor to the OHCHR Fact Finding Mission for Sri Lanka, and Senior Legal Investigator to the UN Secretary General's External Panel on Sexual Abuse by International Forces in the Central African Republic.

 
Patricia Sellers

Patricia Viseur Sellers is an international criminal lawyer and a special advisor for prosecution strategies to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. She has served as a legal advisor and a trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and as expert consultant to UN bodies addressing children and armed conflict, gender and women’s rights, and internal investigations.

 
Lada Soljan

Lada Šoljan has been practicing international criminal law since 2005. She is currently a Legal Officer in the Immediate Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, having previously served as Appeals Counsel, as well Legal Officer in the Trial Division. Lada was a member of the Prosecution trial and appeals teams in one of the Tribunal's largest cases Prosecutor v. Popovic et al.,which focused on genocide and other crimes committed in Srebrenica in 1995. She was involved in the OTP's legacy project concerning prosecuting conflict-related sexual violence and is a contributing author for the resulting book Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence at the ICTY. Lada is an expert listed on the Justice Rapid Response Sexual and Gender Based Violence Investigations Roster, and has provided training on different international humanitarian and international criminal law topics,including the investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence crimes. She is a Contributor to the IAP's Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual violence (PSV) Network.  

 
Yoshida62

Keina Yoshida is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, where she has a mixed criminal and civil practice. She has a special interest in human rights and women's rights litigation and has acted as a third party intervener before the ECHR, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the CEDAW Committee. In 2015, she completed her PhD at LSE on the representation of gender crimes in law and in cinema. Prior to her doctorate Keina worked as a staff attorney at Women’s Link Worldwide. She has co-authored publications in Spanish on the prosecution of gender crimes in Argentina. 

 

 

International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

The conference marked, a few days early, International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. 19 June commemorates the adoption in 2008 of UN Security Council resolution 1820, which recognised sexual violence as a tactic of war and a threat to global peace and security, requiring an operational security, justice and service response.  It further recognised that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and/or constitutive acts of genocide.

 

 

 

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Prosecuting Conflict Related Sexual Violence at the ICTY book cover

 


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