Last week, French President François Hollande called for Syria’s referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). He spotlighted the increasing evidence that the Syrian government is responsible for committing grave human rights abuses – including rape and sexual violence— against civilians during the conflict there. Hollande emphasized the vital need for investigators at the ICC to pursue President Bashar Al-Assad and his supporters and to bring justice to survivors of rape, torture, arbitrary detention and various other forms of human rights abuses in Syria.
In July, Advisory Committee member Women Under Siege released a report charting Syria’s use of rape to terrorize its people, highlighting the terrifying efficiency of rape when used as a weapon in conflict. The report included more than 117 pieces of data on instances of rape and other forms of sexual violence in Syria. The evidence gathered indicates that government perpetrators have committed the majority of the attacks.
Rape and sexual violence are crimes against humanity that could be prosecuted at the ICC. Prosecuting not only the perpetrators of rape, but also the architects of violence, is vital for preventing future conflict and providing restorative justice to survivors. However, there are barriers to these prosecutions if States are not party to the Rome Statute.
Tell your Head of State you want your country to ratify the Rome Statute and be part of the International Criminal Court!
The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict welcomed Fatou Bensouda in June as she became the first woman and first African Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, pledging to increase visibility of gender justice on the Court’s agenda. However, the Chief Prosecutor will only be as effective as the support and mandate she receives from the international community.
Write your Head of State asking your country to Support Fatou and provide her with a mandate for effective gender justice!