INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Darfur - Precedent-Setting Cases of Rape Prosecution

Published: Tue 26 Sep 2006 10:31 AM
VZCZCXRO0360
PP RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2367/01 2691031
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261031Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4727
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 002367
SIPDIS
AIDAC
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR JBRAUSE, NSC/AFRICA FOR TSHORTLEY
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SU AU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - PRECEDENT-SETTING CASES OF RAPE PROSECUTION
REF: A) Khartoum 0097, B) Khartoum 1422, C) Khartoum 1350, D)
Khartoum 1912
KHARTOUM 00002367 001.2 OF 003
-------------------
Summary and Comment
-------------------
1. (SBU) In the last five months, USAID's Office of Transition
Initiatives (USAID/OTI) grantees assisted in prosecuting several
potentially precedent-setting cases of rape in Darfur. The cases
had positive outcomes; however, USAID cautions that these cases may
represent anomalies, rather than a decisive trend. Moreover, they
could be attempts to distract the international community's
attention from the Sudanese justice system's otherwise pitiful track
record in investigating and prosecuting cases of rape and other
forms of sexual and gender-based violence. End Summary.
----------
Background
----------
2. (SBU) USAID has previously documented that legal redress for
cases of sexual or gender-based violence in Darfur is complicated by
legal and medical procedures, which are often unsatisfactorily
completed or disregarded (Ref A). This trend continues. For
example, police refuse to investigate some rape cases; state
prosecutors refuse to prosecute cases; the form medical personnel
complete after conducting a medical exam on a rape victim, "form 8",
is regularly unavailable at police stations; and court hearings are
repeatedly adjourned due to absence of the defendant or the victim,
who may not have been informed of the date of the hearing.
3. (SBU) In contrast to the difficulty of prosecuting rape cases,
the Attorney General of Nyala has filed a case against the Amel
Centre for providing legal representation to IDPs detained in May
after the anti-Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) protests in Otash camp.
Located in Nyala, the Amel Centre is a member of the Legal Aid
Network, which is supported by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and
USAID/OTI; the network has members in all three Darfur states.
According to a press release published by the Sudanese Organization
Against Torture (SOAT), the Attorney General of Nyala is currently
compiling evidence for a case against the Amel Centre, accusing it
of "offences against the state," "spreading false information," and
of being "a threat to national security." Reportedly, this case is
related to the legal assistance the Amel Centre has provided to
Otash internally displaced persons (IDP) camp residents.
-------------------------------
Precedent-Setting Cases of Rape
-------------------------------
4. (U) Per Ref B, the El Geneina General Court in West Darfur
sentenced a central reserve police officer to three years
imprisonment and 100 lashes for the rape of a 10 year old girl on
May 3, 2006. The Legal Aid Network of West Darfur provided legal
representation and subsidized transportation costs for the victim,
contributing to the successful prosecution of this case.
5. (U) On August 6, the Special Court of Nyala convicted and
sentenced a member of an Arab militia to five years imprisonment and
100 lashes with a whip for raping a 26- year old Massalit woman from
Duma IDP camp on June 20. In addition, the defendant was sentenced
to three years imprisonment for possessing a firearm without a
license.
6. (SBU) According to USAID, the following factors assisted in
ensuring justice was served in the Nyala case mentioned above:
-- Close coordination between the UN Mission in Sudan Human Rights
Unit (UNMIS-HR) and the lawyers of Amel Centre: UNMIS-HR conducted
an initial investigation of the rape, after which it referred the
case to an experienced lawyer from the USAID/OTI-funded Amel
Centre;
-- Evidence: There were eight police witnesses who were dispatched
to the scene of the crime after a young boy initially reported it.
A legal adviser, who was trained previously by the Amel Centre in
human rights, facilitated the testimony of the witnesses during the
trial. In addition, during the police investigation of the case,
the perpetrator confessed to committing the crime;
KHARTOUM 00002367 002.2 OF 003
-- Training of key medical and legal personnel: An experienced
medical assistant, previously trained by World Vision, diagnosed the
rape and was able to document it adequately.
-- Subsidization of transport costs by the Amel Centre: Without
financial assistance, the police witnesses, the IDP woman, nor the
medical assistant could have afforded travel expenses or other costs
required to prosecute the case; and
--Speed of trial: In less than six weeks, the hearing was held and
the accused sentenced.
7. (SBU) A case that occurred in El Fasher, North Darfur, is worth
mentioning as well. On July 10, the General Court convicted and
sentenced a policeman to four years imprisonment for the rape of a
mentally-ill 26 year old Zaghawa woman in Golo. Several unique
circumstances in this case contributed to the successful prosecution
of the perpetrator. The factors include:
-- The victim's brother was a policeman, which allegedly influenced
the dismissal of the perpetrator from the police force. After the
police force dismissed the defendant, the case was able to be
prosecuted because the defendant no longer held immunity. (Comment:
USAID notes that this indicates that police officers can be
prosecuted if there is political will. End comment.);
-- The prosecution's lawyer had evidence against the defendant,
including a series of notes taken during a mediation session between
the victim and the perpetrator prior to the trial. Additionally,
the case was strengthened by the testimony of the four male police
officers who witnessed the rape. The victim's police officer
brother facilitated the other police witnesses' testimonies in
court; and
-- The perpetrator was given a prison sentence of four years,
considered to be lengthy in Darfur. However, by international
standards, a four-year sentence for the rape of 10-year old girl is
a light punishment, although the sentence also included 100 lashes,
which is a typical punishment under Sharia law. According to the
prosecuting attorney, procedural law in this case prescribed no
minimum sentence and allowed for a maximum sentence of 10 years.
-----------------------
Other Legal Initiatives
-----------------------
8. (U) USAID/OTI funds three complementary grants to UNMIS-HR and
the UNDP, through the U.S. Secretary of State's Initiative to Combat
Violence Against Women. These grants, as well as the UNDP-supported
Justice and Confidence Center operated by the International Rescue
Committee, have contributed to the success of the recent cases.
9. (U) In late May, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) conducted a
three-day training of 39 police officers on preventing and
responding to sexual and gender-based violence in Nyala. This is
the first training to focus specifically on sexual and gender-based
violence. Previous training of law enforcement officials focused
more broadly on human rights training for law-enforcement,
judiciary, and security officials.
10. (U) UNICEF and the Sudanese government police force have
initiated a new collaborative effort to develop women and child
protection units across Sudan. The program aims to manage cases of
violence against children, exploitation, abuse, and gender-based
violence. UNICEF and the Sudanese government police plan to
establish units in each police zone in Khartoum, South Darfur,
Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Kassala states. Billel Police
Station near Kalma camp (Ref D) and Mershing Police Station in
northern South Darfur are scheduled to be among the first
operational units.
11. (U) UNDP will lead a comprehensive training program to build the
capacity of AMIS to carry out its protection mandate in Darfur. The
training program covers topics such as Sudanese legal frameworks,
principles in managing IDP camps, child protection, child rights,
gender-based violence, codes of conduct, cultural values, and
benchmarks for voluntary return. (Comment: USAID notes that the
six-month rotations of AMIS troops will require retraining of
incoming contingents. End comment.)
---------------
KHARTOUM 00002367 003.2 OF 003
Lessons Learned
---------------
12. (SBU) The rape cases described above demonstrate the importance
of quality legal representation, funding to transport witnesses,
training of key legal and medical personnel, and close coordination
between medical staff, human rights officers, lawyers, and
paralegals. Future UNDP and Legal Aid Network efforts should
broaden the availability of services to rural areas through mobile
legal clinics, as most legal services are only available in urban
areas. USAID will continue to monitor the conduct in future cases
and advocate for expansion of programs in this direction.
HUME
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media