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Sexual violence is often carried out during and after periods of armed conflict or political unrest, and better support and training are needed at the national level to increase the chances of prosecuting crimes of sexual violence. To better understand the challenges of reporting, investigating, and prosecuting sexual violence cases, investigators from the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law conducted interviews between 2011 and 2014 in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, which had all experienced some conflict in recent years. Their findings appear in the report, “The Long Road: Accountability for Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings” (http://bit.ly/1LcXoHS).
The investigators identified several barriers to reporting acts of sexual violence that include stigma and a lack of confidence in law enforcement. They found that an important impediment to successful prosecution of sexual violence is often a lack of evidence, indicating that the procedures followed by members of the health care community and police services to collect evidence and investigate reports of sexual violence need improvement.
The research highlighted 5 key considerations for domestic accountability for sexual violence committed as an international crime, including improving the ability of survivors to report crimes of sexual violence; providing adequate witness protection; and training and sensitizing health care workers to document injuries incurred from sexual violence, among others.