- A training and sensitization workshop on Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence Cases in Conflict for Medical, Judicial, Police and Military officers, Civil Society and Journalists took place at Afrique Suites Hotel from 19-20th September 2016;
- The opening ceremony was presided over by the State Minister for Gender and Culture, Hon. Peace Mutuuzo, representing the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Janat Mukwaya; and was also attended by the British High Commissioner to Uganda H.E Alison Blackburne, the UPDF Forth Division Commander, Brig. Muhanga Kayanja and the Ag. Director of the ICGLR- Regional Training facility (RTF) Mr Nathan Mwesigye Byamukama;
- The workshop attracted over 60 participants from the judiciary, prosecutors, police, prisons, military, medical doctors, social workers, civil society and the media from Uganda and three participants from Kenya;
- The major objectives of the workshop included to enhance the skills/abilities of multi- sectoral stakeholders to document, investigate and report cases of sexual violence through appreciation of the dichotomy that exists between managing sexual violence in conflict and in peace times, provide a neutral platform for state actors to interact with the fourth estate in the professional ways to document and investigate sexual violence without denigrating victims and witnesses. In addition, the workshop was intended to identify strategies for rehabilitating sexual violence offenders that are already in prison so as to avoid cases of recidivism and also identify challenges and areas for more training.
- The two day workshop covered topics ranging from understanding the concept of sexual violence in conflict and in peace times, international and regional instruments on sexual violence; UPDF containment of sexual violence in Somalia, South Sudan and Central Africa Republic ; imperial evidence of sexual violence in Uganda; medical-legal challenges of sexual violence; prosecuting cases of sexual violence; lawyering and exposing the crime of sexual violence; punishment and rehabilitation of sexual violence cases; and last but not least, access to justice for survivors of sexual violence.
Major Observations: Lessons Learnt and training needs from the Workshop.
- There is interest in the International protocol on the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict and how aspects of it can be made binding at country level as a common standard of achievement;
- The need to domesticate the ICGLR 10 protocols through a Miscellaneous Amendment Act to make some of the provisions enforceable under domestic law;
- There is interest in documentation and prosecution of SGBV cases , especially in conflict-related situations, and how such cases are managed, especially by the UPDF;
- The “room diagnosis” exercise demonstrated mixed perceptions about gender role development and sex differences that are congenital, and there is a danger that our own prejudices can be easily brought to bear on case management and service provision, implying that there is need for more sensitization on sexual violence;
- There is genuine interest in the respective work and mandates of various stakeholders and need for further broadening, strengthening and deepening of interaction and multi-sectoral coordination between UPF, medical personnel and the judiciary (and the entire JLOS). To this end it was also resolved to have a protocol or mechanism, especially medical-legal, for coordination of data/evidence if prosecution was to be effective;
- The need for psycho-social services for victims/survivors of sexual violence was also identified;
- The necessity to create a special section for doctors at health facilities to meet victims/survivors of sexual violence was underscored;
- That basic medical evidence in sexual violence cases could be collected by “lower medical staff” as it is done in Kenya.
- The need for protection of witnesses in sexual violence cases was emphasized, as the absence of this protection is bound to fail cases.
- The idea of a witness protection agency was proposed;
- The need for special courts/special sessions and special units to try sexual violence cases was also proposed, for speedy and timely justice.
- The need to emphasize the principle of Do-No-Harm which is critical for protection of dignity and rights of the survivor;
- The need to amend or repeal laws that do not conform with international standards, in the fight against SGBV;
- The necessity to engage local communities in issues of sexual violence including sensitization and working with them to find solutions to the problems of SGBV;
- An appeal was made to tailor a very specific intervention for Northern Uganda, which suffered more than 20 years of conflict, in terms of sensitization and awareness about sexual violence since the SGBV cases there have a relationship with the war and its impact;
- Training for the Uganda Police Force on what to investigate and how to manage evidence in SGBV cases was also recommended;
- That Medical personnel be trained in handling evidence in sexual violence cases to enable successful prosecution of offenders;
- There is therefore need for media training in key issues in sexual violence in conflict and in peace times, and ethical considerations in handling SGBV cases, and also in having regular gender analytical reports on sexual crimes reported/published in the media accurately;
- That the media should also be trained in court reporting;
- Prosecutors need more training in the skills of understanding and prosecuting of sexual violence cases, including basic medical knowledge and social and counselling skills;
- The judges need training in appreciation and sensitivity of handling sexual violence cases, and also in basics of forensic medicine, Medical language in the documentation, investigation and prosecution of SGBV crimes needs to be simplified in order for judicial officers and other parties to understand it more easily;
- That there should be tailor-made training to equip stakeholders in SGBV with key skills in investigation and documentation of sexual violence cases, and further, that the RTF should be an accredited training center with a syllabus for all such trainings.
- The prisons service need to link rehabilitation with the cause of the offending, in this regard there should be rehabilitation programs for sexual violence offenders, in line with the ICGLR Protocol on sexual violence;
The closing ceremony was presided over by Lady Justice of the Supreme Court, Professor Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza, Head of political Section-British High Commission, Mr. Joseph Bolton and Ag. Director ICGLR-Regional Training Facility, Mr. Nathan M Byamukama. Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fred Enanga gave a vote of thanks. Certificates of attendance were also given out to participants who had successfully completed the training.
The closing ceremony was presided over by the Hon. Justice Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza (JSC), who also handed out certificates of attendance to the participants. Also present at the closing ceremony was Mr. Joseph Bolton, representing the British High Commissioner to Uganda, and Mr. Nathan Mwesigye Byamukama, the Ag. Director of ICGLR Regional Training Facility.
Mr. Fred Enanga of the Uganda Police Force, speaking at the closing ceremony thanked the organisers, the British High Commission and the hotel staff for making the training a successful and memorable experience. He stated that this training workshop had been a great learning opportunity for all the participants and expressed hope that similar training would be organised in the future.
Mr. Byamukama thanked the participants for the two days of very serious engagement, especially those that travelled long distances to attend the workshop. He was grateful to the judges for sparing their precious time to participate in this workshop. He also thanked the UPDF, the media and civil society for joining hands with the ICGLR RTF to tackle the problem of SGBV. He informed the meeting that ICGLR is a regional organisation whose mandate is contained in its protocol.
Mr. Bolton said the British High Commissioner had asked him to thank the organisers of the training. He observed that sexual violence exacerbates conflict and that while Uganda had no conflict, the great lakes region was still affected by it. The duty of the armed forces, he said, was to provide an environment in which sexual violence offences can be dealt with, if they occur. He also mentioned that the workshop was part of on-going efforts by the British High Commission to deal with sexual violence.
Justice Ekirikubinza thanked the British High Commission for their support and the ICGLR for knowing who to choose in inviting the participants, which ensure the meeting was a success and the effort well worth it. She thanked the facilitator, Ms. Florence Butegwa, for facilitating the workshop very well.
She underscore the importance of access to justice in the fight against sexual violence: ‘Access to justice is central to the issue of sexual violence, and the context in which this takes place. We must mainstream gender into the criminal justice system’, she emphasised.
She pledged to take a report of the workshop to the Chief Justice.