[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Monday called for African, Asian and European countries to strengthen prevention and protection measures [UN News Centre report] against the use of sexual violence in armed conflicts. Ban's position was outlined in a report [text, PDF] released earlier this month, which stated that such violence has been systematically used in modern conflicts and is a "direct violation of international humanitarian, human rights and criminal law." The violence, which is primarily against women, is allegedly being used in furtherance of military, political, social, and economic objectives. Ban referred to instances of this problem occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan, Chad, Nepal, and other conflict-torn regions. The report claims that case law from international criminal tribunals for Rwanda (ICTR), the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and Sierra Leone (SCSR) [official websites] allows sexual violence to be considered a crime against humanity if it is part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population. The ICTR has recognized sexual violence as a form of genocide since it is a "step in the process of group destruction." Ban proposed that nations experiencing conflict should adopt measures that ensure punishment for offenders, eliminate amnesties and immunities for perpetrators of such crimes, and address inequalities and discrimination against women.
Earlier this month, the ICTR sentenced former Rwandan Armed Forces Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho [case materials] to life imprisonment [JURIST report] for genocide and crimes against humanity, finding that he encouraged the sexual abuse of women and other crimes during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder]. In June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that Kenyan troops tortured, raped, and committed other human rights violations [JURIST report] during an operation in the country's northeastern Mandera Triangle region.