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Sexual Violence encompasses a wide range of human rights violations which include rape, defilement, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, human trafficking, harmful traditional practices, female genital mutilation, forced and coerced sterilization, sexual slavery, forced abortions, forced pregnancies, sexual exploitation or coercion. All of these can and do result in many negative consequences for human health and well-being .

Sexual violence (SV) is common during war and in post-conflict setting worldwide. In post-conflict Northern Uganda, both nationals and South Sudanese refugee men and women have experienced sexual violence, sometimes witnessed by their own children, spouses, close relatives and neighbours. It is a pressing global challenge because it violates human rights, deters economic and social development. Scholars have focused attention on victims primarily being women and girls but emerging evidence is proving such scholars wrong. For example, Refugee Law Project Working Paper 25 of August 2017  highlights the nature and different forms of SV experienced by victims in Northern Uganda and notes that men and boys including women and girls are victims of Sexual Violence. The paper further states that victims are not adequately protected despite guaranteed international, regional and national legal frameworks established by various states to promote and protect victims of sexual violence, and restore families and community. In Uganda, there has been increasing concern among some humanitarian organizations about the definition of rape in the Penal Code Act, as it does not protect male victims of rape and is thus a challenge to men and boy victims of sexual violence.

These gaps therefore call for key players such as the Uganda Police Force, to effectively respond to different forms of sexual violence and critically improve on their roles to maintain and enforce the laws of Uganda; taking statements, summoning suspects, conducting thorough medical examinations, investigations and documentations, court procedures, security, counseling, referrals, cooperation with the community and other security organs established under the constitution to detect and prevent such crimes while protecting human rights.

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 Andre Habarugira

The first time I went to court in 2012 for Kinyarwanda interpretation, the challenges I faced marked a turning point for me in the implementation of glossary building. Glossary building is a term used to refer to the act of collecting difficult terms in their alphabetical order and find their explanations and meanings in other languages The legal officer with whom I went to court had explained to me that he would be on ‘watching brief’. That was also my first time to come across the legal term “counsel on watching brief.”

While in court, I took oath and the court clerk handed me a charge sheet to sight-translate to the client. The latter was accused of being “rogue and vagabond.”  “How do you plead?” asked the magistrate, as I was interpreting into Kinyarwanda. After pleading not guilty, the accused was informed that he had the right to apply for bail. He was requested to produce substantive sureties, unfortunately he did not have any. When he also failed to prove that he had a fixed place of abode this prompted the magistrate to adjourn his case to a later date.

I must admit that the thirty minutes I spent in court made me sweat! I struggled to find the direct equivalents of the words “rogue and vagabond, counsel on watching brief, how do you plead, substantive sureties, fixed place of abode” in Kinyarwanda, yet it is my native language.

On another occasion, I was asked to do Kinyarwanda interpretation in a workshop organized by the Refugee Law Project. The same challenge re-occurred when I had to interpret the words “Access to Justice, Gender and Sexuality, Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing, Media for Social Change, Conflict, Transitional Justice and Governance” which are the five thematic programmes of the Refugee Law Project.

Later, during other interpretation sessions, I came across the words “gender, PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), gender non-conforming, depression, stress, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), flashback, positive thinking, group therapy,” and other words like “affidavit, plea bargaining, output, outcome, affirmative action, screening” and the same challenge of finding direct equivalents into my native language re-surfaced.

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By Davis Uwizeye (Published 28th July 2016)

Today, 28th July 2016, marks sixty-five years since the adoption of the 1951 UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF REFUGEES, a refugee protection instrument that was adopted on 28th July 1951 to address the refugee crisis in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was later amended by the 1967 Protocol to remove the limitations of time and geographical boundaries, thus making it a universal instrument. It is both a status and rights-based instrument that is underpinned by a number of fundamental principles most notably; non-discrimination, non-penalization and non-refoulement.

Despite growing criticism from a section of technocrats, diplomats and scholars, the fundamental significance and endurance of the 1951 Convention is still undeniable. It remains the only binding refugee protection instrument of a universal character.

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A collaborative initiative of the RLP and the Kitgum District Local Government. The NMPDC is located in Kitgum district town council - Northern Uganda an area ravaged by over two decades of armed conflict and is struggling to recover in the post-conflict era...
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