Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Iraqi Women Encourage Lawyers to Prosecute Rape as Part of War Crimes

Elizabeth Dwoskin, a correspondent for Women’s E-News, reports that “a prominent women’s group in Iraq, along with advocates of international law in the United States, are beginning to demand justice for thousands of Iraqi women who suffered under the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

“The group in Iraq,” who wish to remain anonymous, Dwoskin says, “formed in 2003 as a network of expatriate women. They are supported in part by a grant from the New York-based Open Society Institute.” In 2004 the Iraqi women also began working with the Global Justice Center, “a New York-based group that advises female leaders in transitional democracies.”

Dwoskin reports that the activists say “their work with the tribunal is a chance to strengthen recent precedents in international law that can be used to prosecute violations of women’s rights and sexual violence within Iraq, even after the tribunal itself has ended.” The tribunal identifies “rape as a war crime, a crime against humanity and a form of torture,” Dwoskin reports, however, “the wording of the statute itself does not ensure that the group of predominantly male judges and prosecutors will include rape in their list of charges in future cases.”

In the article Dwoskin lists two main reasons for this. The first is that “such progressive laws for prosecuting sex crimes are new.” The other is that “Iraq’s domestic rape laws—those with which the judges are familiar—are far less progressive than the laws they will be using in the tribunal.”

“The tribunal judges and prosecutors have asked the women’s group for training in the international legal precedents on sex crimes,” Dwoskin says. The women are also advocating that the tribunal set up “videoconferencing in Kurdistan so that women there can testify from the safety of their homes and communities.”

The point that the women’s group is trying to make, Dwoskin reports, is to “bring this before judges, because when the tribunal is over, they will go back to their benches and be the elite judges of Iraq, so we want them to see how women suffer.”

To read this article in full click here.


Post a Comment

<< Home