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“The penal system is arguably the most gendered space in society. Altogether there are far more boys deprived of liberty than girls. In the administration of justice and the contexts of armed conflicts and national security 94 per cent of all detained children are boys. In migration detention, about two-thirds of detained children are boys.”
Join the Liechtenstein on Self-Determination (LISD) on Thursday, February 11, 2021, from 12:00 - 1:30 pm EST for a public event on "Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Detention: Putting Principles in Action." The event is open to the public and co-sponsored by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School and the All Survivors Project.
Sexual violence against detainees is prohibited in all circumstances as a matter of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. This absolute prohibition applies to all conflict parties, including non-state armed groups (NSAGs), and all parties should take measures to prevent violence of this nature. Yet, research conducted by the All Survivors Project and others shows that situations of detention, in both official and unofficial settings, continue to pose significant risks of sexual violence, including against men and boys. Such risks can also arise during the process leading up to detention, such as during the course of arrest, interrogation, body searches and detainee transfer. In addition, LGBTI persons also face heightened risks of human rights abuses in detention, including sexual violence
The situation of detainees raises particular concerns in the context of COVID-19. In addition to the risk of contracting the virus, detainees may be exposed to an increased risk of sexual violence resulting from reduced humanitarian access and oversight, as well as heightened insecurity and constrained resources, in places of detention during the pandemic. In this regard women and child detainees, who are already at particular risk for sexual violence in such settings, may become acutely vulnerable.
Against this background, the ‘Principles on the Prevention of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) in Detention Settings’ (‘the Principles’) draw from existing international law –primarily international human rights law and international humanitarian law –as well as authoritative guidance to bring together in a single instrument ten key international standards applicable to all persons deprived of their liberty in situations of international and non-international armed conflict. These relate to the prohibition of CRSV in detention; the general duty to prevent CSRV in detention; the duty to take specific measures to guard against the heightened risks of CRSV in the lead up to detention, and to ensure that detainees are held in appropriate accommodation; ensuring access to timely, effective and adequate healthcare for victims and survivors, including mental healthcare and psychosocial support; training detention personnel on preventing and responding to CRSV in detention; ensuring access to independent monitoring and complaint mechanisms; investigating and prosecuting CRSV in detention; and guaranteeing the right of victims and survivors to remedy and reparation.
The Principles are accompanied by commentary on the source and content of each of these standards and recommendations for their implementation. Whilst the Principles are specific to situations of ongoing armed conflict, they are also relevant to immediate post-conflict contexts, where sexual violence linked to the conflict may still be occurring in detention.
The Principles were authored by All Survivors Project and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School with assistance from the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego, the Health and Human Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University (LISD).