Sexual Violence Against The Male Gender : The case of child soldier
The Hague – The Centre for African Justice, Peace & Human Rights held its 3rd Annual Conference on “Sexual Violence against the Male Gender : The case of Child Soldiers” on 11th February, 2020. The event, which focused on child soldiers as both victims and perpitrators of sexual violence, was held at Humanity House. Four speakers with backgrounds in International Criminal Law (ICL) addressed attendees in two sessions. The Centre also used this occasion to launch its database on sexual violence against the male gender.
The first session, which was themed ‘Experiences from the Dominic Ongwen Case’, was moderated by Her Excellency Ms. Miriam Blaak Sow, Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of the Netherlands from Uganda. The two speakers in the session were Mr. Benjamin Gumpert and Ms. Beth Lyons. Mr. Gumpert, Senior Trial Lawyer at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, delivered a presentation titled ‘Prosecuting Cases involving Child Soldiers: Issues of Sexual Violence by and against them’. Ms. Lyons, Defence Counsel representing Dominic Ongwen at the trial, made a presentation on the subject ‘Forced Abduction and Recruitment as Child Soldiers: A mitigating factor for deciding Crime and Punishment’.
The speakers in the second session were Mr. Dmytro Suprun and Dr. Jens Iverson. Mr Suprun, Counsel at the Office of Public Counsel for victims at the International Criminal Court (ICC), delivered a presentation titled, ‘The Legal Status of Child Soldiers: The Duality of Victim & Perpetrator’. Dr. Iverson, Assistant Professor at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, delivered a presentation titled ‘Potential Impunity Gaps for Atrocities committed against one’s own armed forces between Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes’.
The question and answer sessions at the end of each session provided an opportunity to the audience to interact with the speakers and raise important queries. The audience consisted of university professors, students, PhD scholars, interns, representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), investigators from the ICC and members of civil society. The speakers’ responses increased understanding of the subject and provided deep insight into the issue.
The Centre’s database on sexual violence against the male gender was also launched at this event. The database represents a year’s work by the Sexual Violence Team which is led by Dr. Sumaiya Musharraf. Dr. Musharraf and the Centre’s Chairperson Barrister Sophia Ugwu both delivered remarks to launch the database which can be found at: http://centreforafricanjusticesvmg.org
Dr. Jens IversonAssistant Professor at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies
DR. Iverson holds a Ph.D. from Leiden University, a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Hastings, Cum Laude, (dual concentration in public interest law and international law) and a B.a. from Yale University, and has additionally studied international law at New School University. As President and Co-founder of the Hastings Human Rights Project for Haiti he successfully co-petitioned Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of former Prime Minister of Haiti, resulting in the end of his illegal incarceration. He is a member of the California Bar, Order of the Coif, and the Thurston Society, and was a Yale Summer Travelling Fellow and Class of 1956 Fellow. he has received many international awards the Student Leadership Award for Outstanding Service to Hastings and the Legal Community, Leadership and the Hastings Public Interest Law Foundation Fellowship. Prior to joining academia, he practiced at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and worked for Senior Judges, the American Coalition for the ICC, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, The Hague Appeal for Peace, and the Cambodian Genocide Program. He has volunteered or assisted pro bono at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Alameda County Public Defender, the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, Karen Refugee Committee, General Assistance Advocacy Project, International Action Network for Small Arms, and le Bureau des Avocats Internationaux. Prof. Jens Iverson has published in wide-ranging areas, including international criminal law, environmental protection, international humanitarian law, history of international law, transitional justice, and human rights. His research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals in the U.S. and Europe and a number of edited volumes, and has edited volumes for Oxford University Press and a special edition of the Journal of World Investment & Trade. He has co-organized and presented in conferences worldwide. He teaches International Criminal Law, Public International Law, and International Legal Practice.
Mr Benjamin GumpertSenior Trial Lawyer, Office of the prosecutor, International Criminal Court
Mr. Ben Gumpert is a Senior Trial Lawyer at the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC. He has led the prosecution teams in the cases of Uhuru Kenyatta and Domenic Ongwen. Mr. Gumpert was called to the bar of England and Wales in 1987. He acted as defence counsel to one of the Rwandan cabinet ministers in the government trial at the ICTR (2003-2010). He was a Principal Crown Advocate with the Crown Prosecution Service (2010-2013). He has been a part time judge of the Crown Court of England and Wales since 2009.
Mr Dmytro SuprunCounsel at the Office of Public Counsel for Victims – International Criminal Court
Mr. Dmytro Suprun is Counsel at the Office of Public Counsel for Victims at the International Criminal Court. He represents victims in different proceedings before the International Criminal Court. Since June 2019, he has been the lead counsel for the former child soldiers in the Yekatom and Ngaïssona proceedings. Since January 2014, he has been the lead counsel for the victims of the attacks against civilian population in the Bosco Ntaganda proceedings;As a member of teams of the legal representatives of victims, he has represented victims in the Lubanga, Mbarushimana and Gbagbo proceedings before the ICC;He has provided legal advice and support to external legal representatives of victims;He also participates in the ICC outreach activities by giving presentations and lectures to counsel, legal professionals, students and civil society representatives
Ms. Beth S LyonsDefence Counsel representing Dominic Ongwen at the trial
Ms. Beth S. Lyons has been a criminal defence attorney for 30+ years, practicing almost exclusively in Legal Aid programs in NYC (trial and appellate levels) and in the international courts and tribunals including ICTR. She currently is one of the counsel representing Mr. Dominic Ongwen, a former child soldier forcibly abducted by the LRA at the age of 8 or 9. She represented Mr. Narcisse Arido in a witness tampering case at the ICC. She has been co-counsel on a matter related to the Kenya cases at the International Criminal Court.
Ms. Miriam Blaak SowAmbassador of Uganda
Her Excellency Ms. Miriam Blaak Sow Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary to Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and the European Union since 2012. Her Excellency has been Deputy Ambassador accredited to Brussels but based in The Hague representing Uganda in all legal institutions including:- the International Criminal Court (ICC), International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW). Promotion of Tourism, Trade, Transfer of Technology and Investments as key elements of this mandate from 2003 – 2012. Her Excellency is an International Lawyer with over 30 years of experience as an international civil servant and diplomat and Professional Legal Mediator
Ms. Mirsada Čolaković