Over 130 Judges, lawyers, the police and military, medical practitioners, social workers, development partners and civil society from all 12 Member States of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) met at Lake Victoria Serena hotel, Kampala, Uganda from 5th to 6th December, 2015 for a regional colloquium on “Documentation, Investigation and Reporting of Sexual Violence in the Great Lakes Region”.
The colloquium was convened by the Regional Training Facility (RTF), an institution of the ICGLR, in collaboration with Population Council in Kenya, GIZ, FIDA-Uganda, and NICHE/MSM.
The Opening Ceremony was presided over by the Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Mary Karooro-Okurut, representing the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Janat Mukwaya. The Closing Ceremony was presided over by Ambassador Rosette Nyirikindi, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Uganda.
The Specific Objectives of the Colloquium were:
- To provide a platform for sharing best practices and challenges in documenting and investigating sexual crimes to ordinary/ non-technical stakeholders in the respective ICGLR member state’s jurisdictions;
- To identify training needs for different stakeholders for the RTF training materials and curriculum development to prevent sexual violence both in peace and conflict situations;
- To promote awareness about the ICGLR Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children;
- Promote awareness of the International Protocol on the Basic Standards of Best Practices on the Documentation of Sexual Violence as a Crime under International Law;
- To develop a regional Guidance Note on utilization of the ICGLR Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children on Sexual Violence and the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in conflict: Basic Standards of Best Practices on the Documentation of Sexual Violence as a Crime under International Law (June 2014); and
- To validate of the RTF Draft report on SGBV legislation, special courts and Remedies in ICGLR Member states; and
- To promote awareness about human trafficking in women and children and mechanisms of combating it in the Great Lakes Region
The 2 day meeting covered 2 best practice SGBV response models on documentation and screening; identified what is working well at country level as well as capacity gaps with respect to screening, investigation, documentation and reporting of sexual violence crimes; combating trafficking in women and children in the Great Lakes region; validation of RTF draft report on SGBV legislation, special courts, and remedies in ICGLR member states; as well as identification of training needs for respective actors in addressing sexual violence.
Human trafficking was cited as one of the least understood forms of sexual and gender based violence. It is quite unique because of the dimensions, drivers and many stakeholders handling are not familiar with it as a form GBV. There are also limitations in victim identification and response as most victims are so poor and would rather remain in the exploitative arrangement. This undermines cooperation with government and stakeholder’s hence low prosecution of human trafficking crimes. The colloquium was in agreement on the need for regional mechanisms such as the creation of a Task Force and syndicates. .
At the end of the colloquium, the Kampala-Based Regional Training Facility (RTF) on prevention and punishment of Sexual violence headed by Mr. Nathan Byamukama unveiled a 4-year capacity building program supported by the Netherlands Initiative for Capacity Development in Higher Education (NICHE) and the World Bank. The capacity building program aims to train over 1000 trainers from 12 countries (member states of ICGLR) by the end of the project period. Training will target judicial officers, police, military, medical practitioners and social workers from ICGLR member states. The project will support the stakeholders to effectively and efficiently fight impunity of sexual violence through proper documentation, investigation and prosecution of sexual violence cases. Using a cascade model, RTF will recruit a select group of master trainers who will then train trainers at country level to step-down the SGBV trainings at country level. RTF hopes the capacity building programme will strengthen investigation, documentation, reporting and prosecution capacities of ICGLR member states as part of operationalizing the Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children (2006), the Kampala Declaration on combating Sexual Violence (2011) as well as other ICGLR legal frameworks.
In 2014, the ICGLR Member States established a Regional Training Facility (RTF) on prevention and Punishment of Sexual Violence based in Kampala, Uganda to train all stakeholders who handle cases of sexual violence on how to effectively and efficiently prevent and fight impunity of the crime.