Expert Notes on Documenting SGBV: Paths to Justice
This is an important note featured in our newly-released section to the Video As Evidence Field Guide: Using Video to Support Justice and Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. Download the full section here.
by Lamija Tiro, Legal Advisor, TRIAL International
HOW A TREATY BODY ORDERED REPARATIONS FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE
In August 2019, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) issued a landmark decision, holding Bosnia and Herzegovina internationally responsible for failing to meet its obligations to a survivor of sexual violence, especially because of the failure to provide her with redress, fair and adequate compensation, and as full rehabilitation as possible.
The flawed domestic legislation and an ill-conceived corresponding jurisprudential interpretation make it impossible for many survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to obtain reparations. The treaty body called on Bosnia and Herzegovina to issue an official apology and fulfill the survivor’s right to compensation and other reparations including medical and psychological care. Further, the CAT required Bosnia and Herzegovina to establish a reparations scheme at the national level for victims of war crimes—including sexual violence and to amend its legal framework.
This is the first decision by the CAT concerning the obligation to provide redress to a victim of conflict-related sexual violence, and it affirms that the corresponding compensation claims cannot be subjected to statutory limitations, and that pursuant to subsidiary liability, States must ensure that survivors’ right to redress is enforceable even when the perpetrator has not been identified or is unable or unwilling to pay compensation.
The decision of the UN treaty body for the Convention Against Torture conveys a powerful message of hope, by showing that, when survivors are left without remedies at the domestic level, they can turn to an international body to seek justice and redress.