The Point (Banjul)

Gambia: Fatou Bensouda Joins Forces With UK Foreign Office to Fight Gender and Sexual-Based Violence

Famous Gambian and Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has joined forces with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to fight gender and sexual-based violence.

According to a media dispatch from the British High Commission, Mrs Bensouda joined UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in London to mark the 'International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders' and to support the UK Government's initiative on 'Preventing sexual violence in armed conflict'.

"Mrs Fatou Bensouda and the International Criminal Court are working together with the British Government to prevent sexual violence in conflict situations by increasing the number of perpetrators brought to justice before international courts," it said.

The release added that the UK has also recently set up a team of experts who can deploy to conflict areas to work with the United Nations in investigating allegations of sexual violence.

"The UK has also increased its funding to the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to support UN efforts to strengthen national capacity to investigative, prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence and to protect survivors and witnesses," the dispatch added.

The initiative is being supported by UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie as well as a number of charities and NGOs including Amnesty International, Save the Children and Human Rights Watch.

Mrs Bensouda recently wrote a special blog about this event for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she said: "Today, November 29, marks the 'International Day on Women Human Rights Defenders'- part of the 16 Day of Activism against Gender Violence worldwide campaign for 2012.To mark this day, I will join the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in the first meeting in London, of the Steering Board of the British initiative on preventing sexual violence in armed conflict, of which my Office is a member."

She added: "It is heartening to note the growing international support for this new initiative to highlight sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations. This shows renewed commitment to correct the perception that sexual violence is an acceptable phenomenon of armed conflict and to ensure that these crimes are given the priority they deserve in investigations and prosecutions. The United Kingdom's decision to commit resources and to use its G8 Presidency in 2013 to push for stronger international action on this crucial issue has taken the issue to a higher level.

"Strengthening investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes is a high priority for my Office. To this end a new Special Gender Adviser for the Office has been appointed and work has started on the development of a policy on sexual and gender-based crimes. In partnership with other actors in this area, including the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the United Kingdom's initiative on preventing sexual violence in armed conflict, we are developing strategies to stop the scourge of sexual violence crimes and ensure that whenever these crimes occur, perpetrators are held accountable.

"I join women human rights defenders around the world, who fight to put an end to gender violence and pledge my support for the right of all, of every woman, every girl, and every child to live a life free of violence".

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