News / Africa

ICC Prosecutor Hails Shift in Fight Against Sexual Violence

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda gives a press conference on in Dakar, November 12, 2012.
International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda gives a press conference on in Dakar, November 12, 2012.
Nancy Palus
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says governments and civil society are showing increased commitment to fighting sexual crimes and other violence against women. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda spoke to reporters in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, at the opening of a five-day conference on women in the legal sector. 

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who was in Dakar for a conference of the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers - an organization aimed at protecting the rights of women worldwide - said she is hearing communities speak more and more openly about sexual violence against women, and seeing an increased commitment by governments and civil society to tackling such crimes. She said it is all part of an evolution in how the world regards sexual violence.

"I do believe that states are getting more and more committed to addressing the sexual and gender crimes that take place," Bensouda said. "This is what we need to see, to ensure that we address these crimes, because unless we do that it will always be taken for granted that they should not be addressed."
 
The International Criminal Court, which marks its 10-year anniversary this week, has 15 cases on its docket.
 
Bensouda noted to delegates at the conference in Dakar that of these 15 cases, 11 concern sexual violence charges, one sign, she said, of how far international criminal law has evolved in giving sexual crimes the attention they warrant.  In the 1990s rape was classed as an instrument of genocide. And the Special Court for Sierra Leone has called forced marriage a crime against humanity.
 
All 15 of the cases currently on the ICC’s docket concern alleged crimes in Africa.  Responding to a reporter’s question of whether the ICC is unfairly “targeting” Africa, Bensouda called for a shift in focus from perpetrators to victims - who are also Africans.
 
"ICC is working with the victims of these crimes," she said. "We are also working for the victims of these crimes. They are African victims. And they deserve justice. And they deserve a voice. ICC’s intervention in Africa is largely as a result of Africa coming towards the ICC and requesting the ICC to come and address these crimes.  I think that we have to readjust our thinking and start thinking of the victims of these crimes.  They deserve justice. They deserve peace. They can have both."
 
Addressing a legal case long hanging over Senegal - that of former Chadian leader Hissène Habré, who has lived in the country for decades - Bensouda said the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the case as the alleged crimes occurred before the court existed. But, she said, the court “stands ready to share experiences” with Senegal should it embark on investigating and prosecuting the case.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More