Parliament- The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region has set up the sexual gender based violence training centre in Kampala to train professionals who will handle sexual crimes in the region.
According to Mary Karoroo Okurut the Gender and Social Development Minister, the institute currently housed at her ministry, is mandated to train rapid response teams of professionals to gather evidence and carry out investigations on sexual crimes in places where they have been reported both in War zones and areas with peace so that the perpetrators of such crimes are apprehended and prosecuted.
The crimes include rape, defilement, female genital mutilation as well as cases of sodomy. Among the professionals to be trained forensic doctors, judges, journalists, human rights defenders, police officers, judicial officers and lawyers so that their capacity to handle such cases with sensitivity is enhanced.
“Go and tell the rapists and defilers out there that their time is up. A person who commits rape or defilement in Congo and he thinks he can run and hide in Burundi no longer has anywhere to hide,” she said, adding previously, there has been a challenge of handling such cases because gathering evidence was not easy, leading to the release of suspects who tamper with investigations.
According to Ms Diana Ofwona who represented the special envoy to UN Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region, gender based sexual violence within the region is associated with political instability the region has faced since mid-1990s especially in DR Congo and recently South Sudan where women and children have been victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“The Great Lakes Region has had violence since 1990s and endemic violence against women but the solutions became apparent in 2009 with new peace initiatives in the region and the UN has so far funded up to $1 million for prevention and suppression of gender based violence against women and children,” she said, adding that the aim is to develop teams of professional who are ready to be deployed and investigate human rights violations wherever they have been reported.
“We need experts in a timely manner to investigate and document cases of gender-based sexual violence before placing them on the international crimes list at ICC and for that matter my office is offering $50,000 ( about Shs130m) to equip the centre,” she said yesterday.