Best Practices Manual on the Prosecution of Sexual Violence Crimes in Post-Conflict Regions published by ICTR OTP

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

Prosecution of Sexual Violence ReportYesterday, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), released a manual to identify best practices in the prosecution of sexual violence crimes in post-conflict regions. The manual drew on the OTP’s nearly 20-year experience in prosecuting sexual violence crimes perpetrated during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. During the Genocide, rape and other forms of sexual violence were used as a means to perpetrate genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. More than half of the ICTR’s indictments charged sexual violence as a means of perpetrating genocide and as crimes against humanity or war crimes.

The manual is apparently intended to provide practical tips for other international and national prosecutors tasked with investigating and prosecuting similar crimes. It is divided into the three principal stages of prosecution: investigation, pre-trial and trial, and appeal and post-appeal. For each stage, the OTP shares lessons learnt from its experience—both what was done well and what could have been done better. It includes summaries of key recommendations, checklists, sample investigative plans, and outlines of legal elements and modes of liability to help guide future prosecutions.

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