Domestic accountability for sexual violence: The potential of specialized units in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda

From 2011 to 2014, the Human Rights Center at the UC Berkeley School of Law conducted qualitative research in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda to identify accountability mechanisms and challenges related to sexual violence committed during periods of conflict or political unrest. This article shares two aspects of that research: first, it presents key challenges related to the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of sexual violence committed during and after the periods of recent conflict. Second, it flags the emergence of specialized units tasked with investigating and prosecuting either sexual and gender-based violence or international crimes, noting the operational gap between these institutions. It notes that if not bridged, this gap may impede responses for the intersecting issue of sexual violence committed as an international crime. The article closes with recommendations for a more coordinated response and more accountability at the domestic level.

About the author

Kim Thuy Seelinger
Director of the Sexual Violence Program at the Human Rights Center

Kim Thuy Seelinger, JD, is the Director of the Sexual Violence Program at the Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

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