Colombia: Exchange on Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

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From left to right: Lucie Canal (Advisor, CMN), Dr. Emilie Hunter (Deputy Director, CMN), Ilia Utmelidze (Director, CMN) and Stephanie Barbour (Advisor, CIJA).

Prosecutors and investigators participate in exchange on investigating and prosecuting conflict-related SGBV.

Between 13-16 February, more than 30 Prosecutors and Judicial Police joined international experts in a Best Practice Exchange “Strengthening the investigation and prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence cases within the ordinary justice system.” The Exchange was convened by the Case Matrix Network in collaboration with the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) and the Criminal Policy  Observatory [Observatorio de Política Criminal] of the Faculty of Law, Political and Social Sciences of Universidad Nacional.

Prosecutors, investigators, analysts and psychologists were selected from the Attorney-General’s Office [Fiscalía General de la Nación, FGN], the Judicial Police [Policía Judicial] and the Inspector-General’s Office [Procuraduría General de la Nación]. The exchange used the 2016 Protocol on the Investigation of Sexual Violence [Protocolo de investigación de violencia sexual] of the Attorney-General’s Office, the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the CMN’s materials on the means of proof of conflict-related sexual violence crimes to address challenges and possible solutions to strengthen conflict-related sexual violence cases.

Understanding Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in the Colombian Context

Nayibe Jiménez (Criminal Policy Observatory) and Dr. Álvaro Osorio (Director of DAFNE) provided opening remarks, highlighting the limited accountability for conflict-related sexual violence crimes. The Exchange facilitators – Andreja Jerončič (Project Officer, CMN), Dr. Emilie Hunter (Deputy Director, CMN), Ilia Utmelidze (Director, CMN), Lucie Canal (Advisor, CMN), and Stephanie Barbour (Advisor, CIJA) – guided sessions that addressed the challenges and tools for investigating and prosecuting conflict-related SGBV, including the institutional and legal frameworks in Colombia as well as other situations, such as DRC and Bosnia.

Participants discussed the application of the FGN’s 2016 Protocol on the Investigation of Sexual Violence to investigations of conflict-related sexual violence. Victim-sensitive approaches to investigations of conflict-related sexual violence were analyzed, while prosecutors and investigators shared their best practices. Role play exercises of victim interviews also took place, with the collaboration of Universidad Nacional and assistants.

Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Crimes

Exchanges on the prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence addressed methods and tools to develop of evidence base, the formulation of charges and the creation of an investigation plan. Inter-disciplinary groups of participants took part in a case study of a sexual and gender-based violence case, to develop case theories and strategies, providing a valuable space for prosecutors and investigators to interact. The cohort also examined the recent Bemba case and the application of command or superior responsibility for sexual violence crimes before international tribunal, building on the International Criminal Law Guidelines on Command Responsibility and previous Exchanges with the FGN on Command Responsibility and Commission by Omission. National experiences were also considered, particularly the lessons learned from the Justice and Peace Process of Law 975 of 2005.

Cross-Cutting Issues

Cross-cutting and systemic issues of sexual and gender-based violence where also addressed. This included a guided discussion on the prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes in the armed conflict, as well as witness protection, reparation measures, outreach and interaction with civil society. Tools for investigating as well as mapping, selection and prioritization of conflict-related sexual violence were introduced including the Investigation Documentation System (I-DOC).

Certificates were provided to all participants. This ceremony was preceded by closing remarks by Dr. Álvaro Osorio (Director, DAFNE), Dr. Omar Huertas (Director, Observatorio de Política Criminal UNAL) and Dr. Emilie Hunter.

Launch of the International Criminal Law Guidelines and International Means of Proof Charts: Sexual and Gender Based Violence Crimes

A special session was convened to introduce and launch two Spanish language publications, the International Criminal Law Guidelines: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Crimes and the Means of Proof Charts: Sexual and Gender Based Violence Crimes.

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