Pursuant to article 11 of the ICGLR Pact, Article 6(9) of the ICGLR Protocol on Prevention and suppression of Sexual Violence against women and children and the Paragraph 14 of the Kampala Declaration on Sexual Violence and the subsequent ICGLR Summits and RIMC decisions, the RTF was officially opened on 18th February 2014 and operationalized in April 2014 with the appointment of its Acting Director. The RTF mandate is to “…train and sensitize police units, judicial officers, medical officers, Social workers and other categories of persons who handle cases of sexual violence in the Great Lakes Region” Article 6(9) . This is in line with the ICGLR commitment to fight impunity in sexual violence crimes. The Headquarters of RTF are in Kampala, Uganda. A Host Agreement between Government of Uganda and ICGLR was signed on 18th Feb 2014.
Since its inception, the RTF has been able to convene seven (7) major high profile regional and national training workshops for Police, Military, Medical, Judicial officers, Prosecutors, Civil Society, and Journalists in the Great lakes Region. The first Training organized in December 2014 was for Police Officers from ICGLR Member States; they were trained in Forensic Evidence Management for Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence using DNA technology. This was supported by the UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (OSRSG-SV). The second and third training workshops took place in August 2015. These concentrated on the African Union Commission managing sexual violence under military justice system and managing sexual violence in conflict situations respectively. It was supported by OSRSG-SV and the British High Commission (BHC). The fourth took place in July 2016. It was a Symposium on “Access to Justice & Fighting Impunity of Sexual Violence in the Great Lakes Region” supported by Office of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region; and African Union Commission Peace and Security Department. The fifth took place in September. It was a Sensitization and Training Workshop in “Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence Cases in Conflict” with support from the Foreign and Commonwealth office through the BHC. The sixth took place in December 2016 and it was a colloquium on documentation, investigation and reporting of sexual violence in the Great Lakes Region, 5th -6th December, 2016 at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Course, Entebbe, Uganda. The seventh and most recent was a training for Master Trainers Training, 8-12 May 2017, Kampala, Uganda, and Supported by Netherlands Initiatives for Capacity Development (NICHE)-Project and World Bank.
Since its inception, over 400 officers of police, military, judiciary, medical, journalists and prosecution have been trained under the RTF.
The big boost to the RTF has been provided by World Bank supported four year project under “The Great Lakes Emergency Sexual and Gender Based Violence and Women’s Health Project” in which the RTF is to be strengthened to deliver high quality regional training programs. In particular, the Project is supporting the RTF to develop and implement two high-quality regional training programs for judicial and police officers in the area of fighting Sexual violence. Special focus will be on Training Trainers (ToTs) from ICGLR member states who will train in their respective counties.
The picture of what is happening in the Member States of the Great Lakes Region, those in peace situations and those experiencing conflicts, shows that SGBV is prevalent and takes various forms. What is clear is that all stakeholders ought to appreciate that they do not only need to prevent sexual violence but also all conditions that worsens and complicate it to the benefit of the perpetrator. War and conflict are such conditions and any sustainable intervention in the fight against SGBV must of necessity address them. We have the legal and policy mechanism in place, let’s all implement them and we shall have a peaceful Great Lakes Region.