In the war in Ukraine, a long journey begins in the pursuit of rapes

She calls on other countries that are parties to the international court to consider initiating their own prosecutions for Russia’s alleg...


She calls on other countries that are parties to the international court to consider initiating their own prosecutions for Russia’s alleged sex crimes by claiming universal jurisdiction – the legal principle that some violations are so heinous that they constitute an affront to humanity as a whole, and therefore can be tried by the judicial system of any country. Earlier this year, German court convicted Syrian intelligence officer of crimes against humanityand sentenced him to life in prison for overseeing a security center in Damascus where detainees were tortured, raped and abused.

The United States is not a party to the international tribunal in The Hague and cannot pursue abuse cases in US courts without a referral to the UN Security Council, which Russia would almost certainly veto.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, Moscow could also veto efforts to impose international sanctions against Russian individuals or organizations suspected of committing sexual crimes or violence against women in Ukraine. Ms Patten said economic sanctions imposed in recent years against officials who targeted female activists in Yemen, or failed to end sexual abuse of detainees in Libya, served as a warning to deter gender-based violence somewhere else.

An annual report published by Ms Patten’s office this month concluded that UN investigators had verified nearly 3,300 cases of conflict-related sexual violence worldwide in 2021, an increase of around 800 cases on the previous year.

“If this sexual violence is happening on the scale it is happening, with the brutality and the fact that justice remains painfully slow, it is not for lack of a normative framework,” Ms Patten said. “It’s because there’s no political will” to stop her or at least punish her, she said.

In Ukraine, much of the evidence gathered so far in sexual assault cases has been collected by investigators from non-governmental organisations, such as Ms Gorbunova, or journalists. Many victims who reported their assaults did so anonymously, Ms Patten said, refusing to identify themselves during phone calls to government hotlines.

Russian authorities have denied responsibility for civilian killings, abuses and other atrocities in Ukraine since the invasion, and President Vladimir V. Putin has denounced evidence to the contrary as “false”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: In the war in Ukraine, a long journey begins in the pursuit of rapes
In the war in Ukraine, a long journey begins in the pursuit of rapes
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