|Sexual Violence against Refugees - Guidelines on Prevention and Response (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) / Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), 1995, 106 p.)|
|Chapter 2 - PREVENTIVE MEASURES|
Refugee workers and their organizations should stress to the authorities their duty to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of sexual violence.
Urges States to respect and ensure the fundamental right of all individuals within their territory to personal security, inter alia by enforcing relevant national laws in compliance with international legal standards and by adopting concrete measures to prevent and combat sexual violence, including:
(i) the development and implementation of training programmes aimed at promoting respect by law enforcement officers and members of military forces of the right of every individual, at all times and under all circumstances, to security of person, including protection from sexual violence,
(ii) implementation of effective, non-discriminatory legal remedies including the facilitation of the filing and investigation of complaints against sexual abuse, the prosecution of offenders, and timely and proportional disciplinary action in cases of abuse of power resulting in sexual violence,
(iii) arrangements facilitating prompt and unhindered access to all asylum-seekers, refugees and returnees for UNHCR and, as appropriate, other organizations approved by the Governments concerned, and
(iv) activities aimed at promoting the rights of refugee women, including through the dissemination of the Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women and their implementation, in close cooperation with refugee women, in all sectors of refugee programmes;...
Executive Committee Conclusion No. 73 (XLIV) (1993), paragraph (b)
Refugee Protection and Sexual Violence
States should be urged to adopt a firm and highly visible policy against all forms of sexual violence - including those committed by government employees - by taking the following steps:
a) Advocate enactment and enforcement of national legislation
· Advocate the enactment and/or enforcement of national laws against sexual violence in accordance with international legal standards. This will include prosecution of offenders and the implementation of legal measures for the protection of the victim, e.g. restraining orders.
· Ensure that Government policy does not exclude the applicability of national legislation to refugee camps.
· Promote the ratification of relevant international human rights instruments. Details of international legal obligations can be found in Chapter 4.
b) Liaison with national womens organizations
· National womens organizations in host countries can play a valuable role in advocating and addressing the issue of violence against women. Contacts can be established with them and discussions initiated regarding the role they can play. These can also be extended to include national health, lawyers and human rights associations.
c) Facilitate the investigation of complaints of sexual violence
· The provision of victim/witness advocate programmes could be used to assist victims. It involves one person being assigned to assist a victim as her case is processed, providing support and information about the process and education to family members if needed. This concept enhances the likelihood that cases actually proceed to court and can help to prevent the retraumatization of victims by the court system.
d) Ensure protection of the victim and any witnesses from reprisals
· Ensuring protection depends on the circumstances of the attack and must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Factors to be taken into account include whether the perpetrator(s) are known to her, and whether the perpetrator(s) are able to locate her. For instance, an attack taking place in a refugees home may be quite different from one which involves a group of women being attacked in the bush surrounding a camp. An assessment is necessary as to whether the victim was individually targeted or the attack happened at random.
· In a refugee camp situation this may entail the need to evacuate persons to another location.
e) Disciplinary action taken in cases involving government officials and refugee workers
· Advocate that prompt disciplinary action be taken in cases of abuse of power, corruption and lack of discipline of officials and refugee workers resulting in sexual violence.
f) Documentation and analysis of information
· Document cases to the extent necessary so that information can be used in assessing causes of sexual violence to assist the development of preventive and remedial strategies. Respect confidentiality to ensure the safety of refugees.
g) Sufficient presence of security personnel
· Ensure that an adequate number of security personnel, police and/or military, are present in refugee camps to provide physical protection from attackers. The number and the type of security personnel required will depend on a variety of factors, including the current security situation and the ability and performance of the existing forces in coping with that situation. Requests can be made both at the camp level and at a higher level by the UNHCR Branch Office to relevant government officials.
h) Deployment of female security personnel
· Where appropriate, deploy females as part of security forces or guards to encourage refugee women to report sexual violence incidents and to seek protection.
i) UNHCR support to national security forces where needed
· Ensure the early provision of logistical and communications support to national security forces where needed. Sometimes UNHCR may need to provide support by way of vehicles, fuel, or communications equipment to the host Government.