E-letter December 2009

Women's Voices e-letter  

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Women's Voices, our regular e-letter from the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice. In Women's Voices you will find updates and analysis on political developments, the pursuit of justice, the status of peace talks and reconciliation efforts from the perspective of women's rights activists from four conflict situations — Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Darfur and the Central African Republic (CAR). We are working in these contexts because they are the situations under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In addition to Women's Voices, we also produce a regular legal newsletter, Legal Eye on the ICC, with summaries and gender analysis of legal developments, judicial decisions, announcements of arrest warrants and victims' participation before the Court, particularly as these issues relate to the prosecution of gender-based crimes.

With both online e-letters we will also update you about the programmes, legal and political advocacy, campaigns, events, and publications of the Women's Initiatives.

More information about the work of Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice and previous issues of Women's Voices and the Legal Eye can be found on our website at www.iccwomen.org.

CAR :: Bemba's interim release denied by ICC Appeals Chamber

On 2 December 2009, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC announced its decision to reverse Pre-Trial Chamber II's decision approving Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo's request for interim release pending his trial, due to start on 27 April 2010. Pursuant to this decision of the Appeals Chamber, Bemba will remain in detention in The Hague.

On 14 August 2009, Pre-Trial Chamber II had found that changed circumstances made Bemba's continued detention no longer necessary to guarantee his appearance at trial, to ensure that he did not obstruct or endanger the investigations of the Court, or to prevent him from participating in the commission of the same or related crimes that are under the jurisdiction of the Court. However, the Pre-Trial Chamber had delayed implementation of its decision until a State agreed to accept Bemba onto its territory and enforce the conditions of his release. The Prosecution lodged an appeal of the Pre-Trial Chamber's decision on the same day it was handed down.

In its decision, the Appeals Chamber unanimously considered that the Pre-Trial Chamber had 'misappreciated and disregarded relevant facts' in assessing that a substantial change of circumstances justified Bemba's provisional release. Furthermore, according to the Appeals Chamber, the Pre-Trial Chamber had an obligation to identify the conditions under which Bemba would be released, as well as a State willing to accept Bemba onto its territory and willing and able to enforce those conditions, prior to making a decision to grant the provisional release.


CAR, South Sudan and DRC :: Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) destabilises the region

Several sources claim an increase in the number of attacks carried out by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) against the civilian population of eastern Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.

According to eyewitnesses and humanitarian agencies, on 18 November 40 LRA militiamen attacked the area surrounding Djemah, in the Upper Mbomou prefecture in eastern CAR. The rebels, armed with guns, machetes and clubs, surrounded and attacked the village of Djemah from three different directions. At least 11 people were killed and 24 kidnapped. Some local sources, however, have stated that dozens of people were killed in the attack. The incident was confirmed by the Ugandan Army (UPDF) spokesperson, Lt Col Felix Kulayigye, who also stated that following this attack the LRA was ambushed by the UPDF near the Ngoangoa River and LRA senior commander, Okello Okutti, was killed. The Ugandan Army has been deployed in eastern CAR since August 2009 to fight the LRA and protect civilians from its attacks. The resumption of LRA attacks in the east of CAR was also confirmed by Women's Initiatives' partners from the Upper Mbomou region participating in the 'Women, Peace, Justice, Power' workshop held in Bangui in November 2009. Attacks were reportedly very violent and included murders, abductions, pillaging, torture and enslavement, particularly of children and young women and men.

The LRA has also reportedly been active in South Sudan. During last November 2009, suspected LRA fighters attacked the Nzara region three times, leaving at least seven people dead and abducting eight. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), these attacks raise the number of people killed by the LRA in South Sudan during 2009 to 220. Some people in South Sudan claim that the LRA is being used as a destabilisation tool by northern parties in the period leading up to the April 2010 national elections and the January 2011 referendum on independence. The presence of the LRA in Sudan is confirmed by the surrender in November of at least 60 of Kony's rebels, who in different episodes have handed themselves over to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the Western Equatoria State.

This increase in desertions, confirmed by SPLA spokesman, Maj-Gen Kuol Diem Kuol, follows the surrender on 2 November of the LRA's director of operations, Charles Arop. Arop gave himself up to intelligence agents operating with the UPDF in Faradje, north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Arop, who is eligible for amnesty in Uganda as stipulated under the Amnesty Act of 2000, is considered to be the commander responsible for the Christmas massacre, during which the LRA killed at least 815 Congolese civilians and 50 Sudanese civilians between 24 December 2008 and 17 January 2009. In a recent interview with the Belgian journalist Els De Temmerman, the former LRA's director of operations explained that '...Kony has instructed his troops to move into Darfur and report to the first detachment of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) seeking protection and logistical support'. According to Arop, Kony is moving along the CAR border to Chad in order to 'enter into Darfur and meet SAF officers'.

On 17 November, the UN Security Council issued a press statement on the LRA, condemning the resumption of the attacks carried out by Kony's men in DRC, CAR and Sudan. The Security Council President, Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, expressed deep concern regarding the 'direct and serious threat the activities of the LRA pose to the civilian population, the conduct of humanitarian operation and regional stability'. Security Council members asked the countries involved to increase their cooperation in order 'to ensure the protection of civilians, in particular women and children'. The UN body also called upon the UN missions in the region (MONUC, UNIMIS, UNAMID, BONUCA and MINURCAT) to coordinate strategies for and information on the protection of civilians subjected to LRA attacks.


Uganda :: Women's views on the peace process

Members of the Greater North Women's Voices for Peace Network (GNWVPN) from Teso and Karamoja sub-regions organised several meetings from 2 to 6 November in the Abim, Kotido, Kabong, Moroto and Nakapiripirit Districts of Karamoja sub-region. Women met with District leaders to highlight their achievements during the Juba Peace Talks and their activities following Operation Lighting Thunder, the military action against the LRA launched on 14 December 2008. Operation Lightning Thunder was a joint operation undertaken by the Ugandan army, in partnership with the forces of the DRC and South Sudan and with the support of the United States. The GNWVPN was created in 2007, with the support and assistance of the Women's Initiatives, as a platform for women from the greater north of Uganda to directly express their views and demands for justice, accountability, peace and reconciliation.

According to the meeting participants, one of the main obstacles to the progress of the peace process is the failure by Joseph Kony to sign the Final Peace Agreement (FPA). Despite Kony's refusal to put an end to the conflict by signing the FPA, the Government of Uganda, supported by the donor community, decided to proceed with the implementation of some aspects of the FPA, namely the creation of the Special Division of the High Court of Uganda, and the beginning of discussions about traditional justice mechanisms and the establishment of a truth commission.

GNWVPN members also identified the plight of women and children still held in captivity by the LRA as an obstacle to further progress of the peace process. Since January 2009, the GNWVPN and Women's Initiatives have advocated for their immediate release as part of the efforts to resume the peace talks that were suspended in December 2008 with the beginning of Operation Lighting Thunder. The call for the immediate release of women and children within the LRA, together with the permanent cessation of hostilities and the signing of the FPA, was put forward by the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice and the GNWVPN in their Open Letter to General Kony and President Museveni in March of this year.

Click here to read the Open Letter.


DRC :: Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice's partner attacked in Bunia

On 1 October 2009 a member of a Congolese women's rights organisation active in Ituri, and a close partner (name withheld for security reasons) of the Women's Initiatives, was attacked in her home in Bunia, eastern DRC, by eight armed men. Her children were in the house at the time of the attack. The assailants, who did not wear a uniform and hid their faces with balaclavas, threatened to rape the activist and her daughter. Several bullets were fired in the house. A neighbour intervened and managed to send the aggressors away by giving them money. The activist had to be hospitalised as a result of the psychological trauma suffered during the attack. The assailants stole money, jewels, kitchen implements, clothes and five mobile phones, and severely damaged the house, and they continued to harass the activist and her family by phone in the days following the incident, threatening to repeat the attack. Formal complaints were submitted to the relevant national authorities and the MONUC Protection Section was informed of the attack. The identity of the attackers has yet to be discovered.

This is the second violent assault against a member of this organisation in Bunia in the last 12 months. In November 2008, another women's rights activist was the victim of a similar attack and needed medical evacuation as a consequence of her physical injuries. The assailants were believed to be former members of a prominent militia group in Ituri. The attackers were arrested, but they were released after a few days by the military, who had taken their dossiers from the police. Both attacks appear to be linked to the organisation's work in favour of victims/survivors of gender crimes in Ituri.

These systematic attacks clearly exemplify the extremely insecure conditions and the daily intimidation faced by women's rights activists in eastern DRC. The general environment of impunity for perpetrators of gender crimes sustains the high incidence of violent attacks against women. As reported by Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, in a press statement released after his visit to DRC from 5-15 October, while the severity and frequency of episodes of violence against women are clearly increasing, the position of key Government officials on sexual violence remains one of denial. The UN Rapporteur reported that 'when I asked one senior military official in eastern DRC about sexual violence in the area under his command, he told me that only 15% of rapes alleged by NGOs and others actually occurred, that most cases were 'imaginary', and that it was in the nature of women to be unfaithful'.

As was highlighted in the SOS message delivered last March by national Congolese women's rights groups and the Women's Initiatives to the UN Security Council delegates visiting the DRC, the protection of women and of female women's rights activists is the duty of the Congolese Government and of MONUC.

Read more about the SOS Declaration in the October issue of Women's Voices at http://www.iccwomen.org/news/docs/Womens_Voices_1009/WomVoices1009.html#6drc

Read the full statement by Professor Alston at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/executions/docs/PressStatement_SumEx_DRC.pdf


DRC :: MONUC withdraws support to Congolese army units involved in civilian manslaughter

On 1 November 2009, the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, announced that MONUC would suspend its support to the Congolese army's units operating in the Nyabiondo area, North Kivu, under the operation Kimia II.

This decision came after MONUC's investigations revealed that units under the 213th Brigade of the regular Congolese army (FARDC) were guilty of deliberately killing 62 civilians in Nyabiondo. The Congolese Information Minister declared that he was unaware of the allegations put forward by the UN and expressed criticism of the decision to withdraw MONUC's support to the 213th Brigade.

The UN mission has been increasingly criticised for providing support to Kimia II. The operation was officially launched on 2 March 2009, with the aim of forcibly disarming and neutralising the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu militia group active in the Kivu provinces since 1994. Kimia II follows a 5-week long Congolese/Rwandan joint military operation, and has a central role in the policy of rapprochement between the two countries. As part of the operation, MONUC provides the Congolese army with substantive support to carry out military activities, including technical expertise, transportation, medical assistance and food rations.

Several human rights organisations have criticised the operation on the grounds that the toll on civilians is disproportionally high when compared to the results achieved. According to the UN, out of an estimated 7000 combatants belonging to the FDLR, 1071 have been disarmed and repatriated to Rwanda since January 2009. In the same period, more than 1000 civilians were killed, 7000 women raped, 6000 houses burned and 900,000 people forced to flee their homes as a result of the military activities carried out under Kimia II. This means that, as calculated by the Congo Advocacy Coalition, 'for every rebel combatant disarmed during the operation, one civilian has been killed, seven women and girls have been raped, six houses burned and destroyed, and 900 people have been forced to flee their homes'. In the areas affected by Kimia II, sexual violence cases have reportedly become more brutal, with more cases of mutilation and torture associated with rapes, and more children among the victims/survivors.

In the press statement released after his last visit in the DRC from 5 to 15 October 2009, Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, declared that the MONUC-supported operation was having catastrophic effects on civilian's human rights. He reported that since the beginning of the operation, killings committed by FDLR have increased to around 60 per month, compared with an average of 10 per month in 2008. He also confirmed the high incidence of violent rapes in the area affected by the operation.

Professor Alston stated that the FARDC and MONUC have failed to protect civilians against FDLR's retaliations, and that, in many areas, the FARDC themselves constitute the main risk for the population. The UN Special Rapporteur affirmed that two of the main reasons behind the escalation of abuses perpetrated against civilians by the Congolese regular army are the lack of training and the failure to fully integrate former armed group members, in particular those previously belonging to the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), as provided for by the Goma Peace Agreements signed last March.

Human rights violations committed by the FARDC usually go unpunished. In one case reported by Professor Alston, FARDC soldiers led by Colonel Zimulinda, a former Tutsi rebel commander, attacked a Rwandan Hutu refugee camp in Shalio, North Kivu province, killing 50 people and abducting 40 women, of whom only 10 returned. No action was taken by the Congolese army to punish those responsible for this attack, in fear of the possible reaction of former CNDP members to the arrest of Zimulinda. The presence in the FARDC of former CNDP leaders with a record of human rights violations, including Bosco Ntaganda, the subject of an ICC arrest warrant, poses additional problems to the UN support of the operation.

In June 2009, the Women's Initiatives along with 65 partners from eastern DRC wrote to the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, predicting the foreseeable consequences of the Goma Peace Agreement because it failed to include provisions to ensure 'vetting' of the CNDP militia group regarding past actions of rape and other forms of sexual violence committed by CNDP combatants. In our Open Letter to the Secretary-General we highlighted the fact that the Goma Peace Agreement included several provisions which related to the integration of the CNDP police and militia into the FARDC but did not state a policy or mechanism to 'vet' those being integrated regarding the possible past commission of crimes of sexual violence. The absence of such provisions and the lack of requirement for formal training of CNDP police and soldiers prior to integration into the FARDC, raised considerable concerns, in particular the possibility of the future commission of gender-based crimes by former CNDP combatants now acting under the umbrella of the Congolese Army.

Click here to read the Open Letter to the UN Secretary-General.

Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice's partners confirmed the disastrous consequences of Kimia II on the civilian population in general and specifically on women. One partner reported that the worst security conditions for civilians can be found in the areas where the regular Congolese Army integrated by former militia members operates, as for example in the Masisi territory. This partner reported to Women's Initiatives via email dated 12 November that 'it is the hell here in North Kivu'. Women's Initiatives' partners' general view on Kimia II is that instead of bringing peace, the operation is worsening their situation.


CAR :: Workshop — 'Women, Peace, Justice, Power'

On 2-5 November 2009, Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice and OCODEFAD (Organisation pour la compassion et le développement des familles en détresse) organised the 'Women, Peace, Justice, Power' workshop in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic. The workshop was attended by 40 women leaders, human rights advocates, and victims' activists coming from all provinces of the country. During the workshop, participants discussed the situation of victims/survivors and the status of women's rights within the country, and received an update on the ICC, in particular on the trial against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. Particular attention was given to victims' participation and to the functioning of the Trust Fund for Victims of the Court that is expected to start its activities in CAR in the next year.

Participants identified ostracism of victims of sexual violence, the high number of children orphaned by war or born after rape, and the increasing occurrence of sexual violence against children and women as some of the major consequences of the conflict that has raged in the country since 2002. Participants also called attention to the failure to adequately address sexually transmitted diseases, medical complications, and psychological pain resulting from rape and sexual violence, and to the many victims who are dying of HIV/AIDS or poverty without receiving justice.

According to workshop participants, widespread impunity for those who committed gender crimes during the conflict is a major concern of victims/survivors in CAR. Participants claimed that threats and intimidations against activists who call for the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for crimes committed in the country are frequent. Therefore, they strongly opposed the possible provisional release of Bemba, which they believed would send an ambiguous message to Bemba's co-perpetrators and others wanted by the ICC. All the participants were strongly convinced that, if he had been released, Bemba would have used his financial resources and his strong and well-funded supporters to threaten and intimidate victims and potential witnesses so they would not testify against him.

During the workshop, OCODEFAD and the Women's Initiatives organised a public march to call upon the Government, the international community and the ICC to end impunity, give stronger support and protection to victims/survivors, stop sexual violence against women, promote women's right, and strongly oppose the conditional release of Bemba. On 4 November, more than 2000 women marched through the streets of Bangui. Participants included women's and human rights organisations and victims' organisations, as well as youth movements and ethnic minorities' groups. At the end of the march, women delivered a memorandum to the Secretary-General's Representative and Head of the United Nations Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA). In their memorandum, women underlined their concerns regarding the severe situation faced by victims/survivors in CAR, and called for the reinforcement of protective measures and support and reintegration for victims. Women demanded the UN Representative's full engagement towards the end of impunity and a sustainable peace. Finally, the memorandum asked the UN to support and pressure the CAR Government for a stronger implementation of all the resolutions on women and victims provided for by the Political Inclusive Dialogue of 2008, of the national laws regarding women's protection and rights, and of UN Security Council Resolutions 1820, 1325, and 1379.


Sudan :: Voter registration raises concerns

On 7 July 2008 the Sudanese Parliament approved the Elections Bill, after a long debate. This law lays the foundation for the elections that will take place in April 2010, the first democratic elections in the country since 1989.

The voter registration process ran from 1 November to 7 December. Registration is necessary to be eligible to participate in elections, and is considered the first step in the electoral process. The National Election Commission (NEC) announced that it had mobilised all the concerned authorities and material to ensure successful voter registration, and that it had established 15,000 registration centres in the country, of which 1125 were in Khartoum. The number of eligible Sudanese voters is estimated at 20 million.

The national and international media reported that the registration process has been criticised by the opposition parties who said one month is not enough time for registration, and asked that the period be extended. The opposition also blamed the NEC for not informing the population about the process.

Sudanese online news reported that 'an international election monitoring body, the Carter Center, today complained that deployment of observers was stalled due to formalities imposed by an official accreditation process. The Carter Center has deployed already 12 observers to five regions of Sudan and it hopes to bring in 20 additional observers for the ongoing voter registration period.' On 3 November, the Carter Center said it was 'concerned that its mission will be compromised if the Center's observers are not accredited immediately and if regulations are not applied equally to all national and international observer groups'. The statement implied that its observers were delayed because of paperwork being held at the NEC: 'Given that voter registration has begun, it is critical that observer accreditation formalities are facilitated without further delay, so that all observers can be deployed. The NEC should process these applications without further delay.' Furthermore, the Carter Center said it is 'very concerned about continuing reports of harassment of observers and political party and civil society activity, including instances involving some of the Center's own international observers in Kassala, eastern Sudan, as well as domestic election observation training activities supported by the Center in the same state.'

On the other hand, on 2 November 2009 national media in Khartoum reported that the registration centres are unknown to eligible voters due to the NEC's failure to provide clear and comprehensive information. In some areas of Khartoum the registration centres are called by different names than the official, recognised names. There are no posters or banners outside the centres or in strategic places to draw attention to the registration centres. The first day of registration was monitored by Alshafa, a national daily newspaper, which reported that the staff themselves was not aware of the exact location of the registration centres. In addition to the NEC's lack of effectiveness in guiding the voters to the registration centres, the original plan for 15,000 fixed registration centres which were to be open for 30 days was changed into a system of mobile stations that operated in each electoral constituency for three days before moving to another location. The NEC defended the new system by saying it reduced the cost and made the registration process easier, considering that the fixed registration centres were costly and were not being used.

Group of women's activists, including a partner of Women's Initiatives, wrote a letter calling for action and distributed it to several national newspapers, requesting their support for the election process. As a result, many national newspapers decided to announce and advertise any news related to the registration process for free.

With regard to South Sudan, it was reported that voter turnout had been very low in the first weeks and the registration process had been experiencing logistical problems. Only at the end of the month, according to local media, was there an increase in the number of people registering. In Juba, South Sudan's capital, according to registration team leaders the turnout has also been very low, with an average of only 30 people registering a day. David Lukudu, a team leader at Naira Secondary School registration centre, said that his team had been registering an average of 15 people per day, while other centres reported that over the period of a week they had managed to register only 200 to 300 people. The Council of Ministers requested the extension of the registration process to try to mobilise and register a good number of voters. The Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Paul Mayom Akech, stated: 'Voters' registration is not going on as desired generally in Southern Sudan. There is practically difficulty'. To address the low voter registration, the President of the Southern Sudan Government, Salva Kiir, issued a presidential order declaring seven days of public holiday from 11-17 November throughout the region in order to enable Government officials to participate in the mobilisation for voter's registration.

On 1 December, the NEC announced that the registration process, which was initially planned to last until 30 November, would be extended until 7 December. The following day, the Carter Centre issued a report which suggests that, despite the process having been delayed by logistical problems, voter registration has been progressing satisfactorily, and acknowledging that the 7-day extension of the registration exercise would enable more people to register for the elections. On 30 November, the NEC announced that it had so far registered more than 11 million voters in the 15 Northern states and 2.6 million voters in the 10 Southern states.


Sudan :: Women and elections in South Sudan

In South Sudan, women developed a common agenda for the elections. A declaration calling for effective participation of women in political parties and for the adoption of gender sensitive party manifestos came out of a July 2009 workshop in Juba, Sudan, organised by UNIFEM and other partners. The declaration called upon the National Electoral Commission, Political Parties Affairs Council, Political Parties in Southern Sudan and the media to address issues such as the effective participation of women in political parties, the creation of gender-sensitive manifestos, the participation of women in the media, gender-sensitive election guidelines and capacity building for female candidates.

Read the full declaration by the Conference for Southern Sudanese Women on Political Parties at http://www.awcfs.org/dmdocuments/gem_sudan/SudanWomenAgenda.pdf (pages 8-9).

Women face major challenges in the upcoming elections with respect to enjoying their political rights. These challenges, and the way they have been addressed by different actors, are listed below.


Illiteracy is one of the main challenges and obstacles to women's participation. According to several reports, the majority of women in South Sudan has never had any access to formal education and is unable to read and write. Moreover women have not been given access to information that would be understandable to them and that would enable them to select the right representative. According to research carried out by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), an 'educated person will need 36 minutes to vote and an illiterate person could take twice as long because they would require assistance'.

Voter education

Michael Huda Daudi Laila, Minister of Health in Central Equatorial State, told media that 'although women form the majority of the population, most are not educated and as a result, it is possible most people will vote for the wrong parties'. A member of the Southern Sudan High Elections Committee also said that for the process to be successful, intense civic education must be carried out: 'this electoral process is going to be the most complicated ever and needs comprehensive voter education'. In addition, the UN Chief Electoral Affairs Officer in Sudan, Ray Kennedy, said during a news briefing that the Sudanese organisers were facing a series of problems. One challenge was the election's complexity, with six elections running at the same time using a range of voting methods. Voters will choose Sudan's president, members of parliament, state governors and members of state assemblies. In the South, citizens will also select Southern Sudan's president and members of its legislative assembly.

To demonstrate how long casting ballots could take, UNIFEM South Sudan office carried out a mock voting process with women in one village, finding that it took close to 45 minutes for each woman to cast all 12 ballot papers. The women were also angry over the amount of time they were spending in the exercise. 'Some women even walked away before the exercise was over'. According to Lucie Luguga, UNIFEM Programme Manager in South Sudan, 'We could not finish voting for even five people within one day. The women were annoyed with us because they thought that we were wasting their time and that we invented our own voting process.'

Transportation and communication

A member of the Southern Sudan High Elections Committee stated that the vastness of South Sudan and its poor transport and communication infrastructure are expected to exacerbate the situation. In order to avoid this, election officials plan to put up as many voting centres as possible. 'We have bought and hired vehicles that will transport voters who are far from voting centres, with the help of chiefs', said the election official.


It is believed that many people, particularly in rural areas where women are the majority, do not have the identification cards required for registering as a voter. Political parties are concerned that this might lead to bribery and rigging ahead of the election. Fears that officials may intimidate voters before issuing IDs were raised by Rabab Baldo, a Khartoum-based UNIFEM Programme Specialist working on gender equality and good governance, at a conference organised by UNIFEM and UNDP, Joint Donor Team, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and USAID in July.


It is reported that women candidates are worried about their security, despite Section 65 of the Elections Act requiring police officers to accord equal security to all candidates and political parties. Women candidates fear they could be attacked during campaigns or if they show interest in vying for constituency seats. In many parts of the country, people are loyal only to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), and there are concerns that they may intimidate candidates from other parties.

In addition, the Lord's Resistance Army rebels of northern Uganda have infiltrated the South Sudan region, and women fear they might be used to attack candidates and voters alike.


Sudan :: Update on 'Trouser Trial'

Women's Initiatives' partners in Khartoum reported that two of the 13 women arrested on 3 July 2009 with Lubna Hussein, whose story was reported in the Women's Voices October issue, were sentenced to 20 lashes each and fined 250SP (100$). The trial took place on 22 October 2009. The members of the 'No to the Oppression of Women' initiative, the voluntary group that formed to support Lubna and protest against Article 152, are closely monitoring the situation and were present with the women at the court in Khartoum. The lawyer representing the two women appealed the decision, and more lawyers have joined the team representing them. Women's Initiatives' partners said the group will continue monitoring the appeal process and will put pressure on the Khartoum Government and Parliament. The group also intends to continue their protest against Article 152.

In a separate incident, international media reported that a 16-year-old South Sudanese girl, Silva Kashif, was lashed 50 times after a judge ruled her knee-length skirt was indecent. The girl's mother announced she was planning to sue the police who made the arrest and the judge who imposed the sentence, as her daughter was underage and a Christian. Christians in Sudan are not punishable under Islamic Law as provided for by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005.


Gender Report Card 2009 — now online!

The Gender Report Card 2009 was launched by Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice on 19 November 2009 in The Hague.

Read the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice's Executive Director's speech during the launch here.

On 19 November 2009, during the 8th Session of the ICC Assembly of States Parties, the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice launched the 2009 Gender Report Card on the ICC. The Gender Report Card analyses the institutional developments at the ICC during 2009, as well as the Court's substantive work. The review of the ICC's substantive work includes a summary of the investigation and prosecution strategy of the Office of the Prosecutor, analysis of key judicial decisions particularly on issues affecting victims and witnesses, and the work of the Registry and Trust Fund for Victims. The 2009 Gender Report Card contains a new section on trial proceedings that highlights testimony by victims of sexual violence in the ICC's first trial.

The 2009 Gender Report Card provides the most comprehensive gender analysis of the ICC currently available.

Download a copy.


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Tel +31 (0)70 302 9911 • Fax +31 (0)70 392 5270 • info@iccwomen.org www.iccwomen.org
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Find out more about the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice download Gender Report Card 2009