Sexual and gender-based violence to be addressed by Darfuri lawyers at IBAHRI event

As part of an urgent need to address the high level of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) – including rape, abuse and harassment – experienced by women and girls in the camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Darfur region of Sudan, Darfuri lawyers have implemented projects aimed at promoting and protecting women’s rights in Darfur. These projects will be showcased to a panel of international human rights actors, at an International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)event being held in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday 9 October 2014.

Working directly with Sudanese legal professionals the IBAHRI, the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) and the Human Rights and Social Justice Research Institute (HRSJ) at the London Metropolitan University, have jointly supported 20 lawyers from Darfur to develop and implement the women’s rights projects, which aim to empower women, inform them of their rights to legal protection, ensure access to justice and end impunity for perpetrators of SGBV. The expert panel, including representation from the British High Commission to Kenya, the European Union Delegation of Sudan, and the Ford Foundation, will draw on its wide expertise to provide feedback and recommendations to help the lawyers develop effective and sustainable interventions to promote women’s rights in Darfur.

Sternford Moyo, IBAHRI Co-Chair commented ‘In situations of displacement, the risk of human rights violations is gravely heightened. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual violence. Through the ‘Women’s rights in Darfur’ programme, Sudanese lawyers are working directly with displaced communities to empower them to monitor violations, take steps to prevent such crimes, and provide access to justice.’ He added, ‘The IBAHRI event will provide an important opportunity for the Darfur lawyers to interact with regional and international experts in women’s rights programming, so as to consolidate and build on learnings gained during the programme and develop lasting initiatives to protect and promote the rights of women and girls in Darfur.

The panel event is a component of the IBAHRI’s ‘Women’s rights in Darfur’ programme. Through this 30-month, three-module programme, international and regional facilitators have worked directly with DBA members to develop innovative projects with the primary aims of sensitising displaced communities on women’s rights and addressing the limited recourse to justice, through legal aid, for survivors of SGBV in IDP camps in the Darfur region. The first and second modules of the programme were implemented between June and November 2013. In the third and final module, to be implemented between 6 and 11 October 2014, participants will work with the facilitators to present and reflect on the implemented projects and utilise panel recommendations to refine project methodologies.

Senior Research Fellow at the HRSJ Research Institute and academic lead of the programme Karen Bennett commented, ‘I am very impressed with the dedicated work of the Darfur lawyers in this programme. They have learned new skills in community based education important to progressing women’s rights in Darfur, and have used these skills to create projects that reach a large number of Darfuri displaced persons, improving their knowledge-base in addressing human rights violations against women and girls. I am very excited to work with the group in module three of this programme, to progress their work in the targeted areas, which include IDP camps across four regions of Darfur, and in a prison where Darfuri women are detained in Khartoum. I am honoured to work with such impressive and brave human rights defenders.

The Protection and External Relations Secretary of the DBA Abdelrahman Gasim observed, ‘The Sudanese lawyers and the IDP beneficiary groups involved in the women’s rights projects have benefitted greatly from this programme. I notice that women’s voices are louder and cases involving human rights are increasingly brought to the attention of lawyers. The lawyers involved in the programme are also now considering international issues; for example, they co-signed the DBA statement submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council which concerned human rights violations in Darfur, and requested the extension of the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan. Given the absence of international non-governmental organisations in Darfur, this programme has enabled lawyers to create their own methodologies for supporting IDP women and girls.’

The conference will take place on 9 October 2014, 1000–1600, at the Sarova Panafric Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya.

Notes to the Editor

  1. The October panel event is the final component in a three-phase programme, which took place over 30 months, during which participants designed and implemented peer-training projects across three regions in Darfur.

    Module one comprised: training with international and regional experts on the key areas of law and effective strategies for working as a human rights defender; information and experience sharing on best approaches to combating SGBV in IDP camps in Darfur; and expert workshops on project design, providing participants with the tools to conduct effective needs assessments within their own communities.

    Module two comprised: presentation on needs assessments conducted in IDP camps; identification of project proposal topics; discussions on gender sensitivity in community training and responding to gender-based violence in Darfur; and workshops on project theory, design and implementation.

    Module three comprises: presentation of projects implemented, evaluation and development of participant projects; presentation of projects to a donor panel; and substantive evaluation and feedback sessions where participants will work with facilitators and donors to further develop the women’s rights projects.Programme.
     
  2. Coordinators:

    Chara de Lacey Programme Lawyer, IBAHRI
    Karen Bennett Senior Research Fellow in Human Rights, HRSJ
    Abdelrahman Mohamed Gasim Protection and External Relations Secretary, Darfur Bar Association
     
  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, US, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Programme (IBA ICC) is managed from an office in The Hague.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
     

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