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Estonia Supporting Victims of Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Through International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund

17.04.2013

The Foreign Ministry is supporting victims of gender-based and sexual violence through the Trust Fund for Victims created by the International Criminal Court.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Estonia would like to contribute even more to the protection of human rights and basic freedoms, paying particular attention to the rights of women and children. “The sexual violence taking place in conflicts has a profound and serious impact on women and girls. Sexual violence is commonly used as a weapon in conflict to instil fear in the local population, weaken social ties, or exercise control over an area,” said Paet.

According to a new report by the UN Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflicts, this problem must be acknowledged more, including the rise of violence against men and boys, which is not often addressed.  “Even when victims survive, their personal everyday life is shattered for a long time. This can also damage the entire society for decades or even generations,” he added. In the last 10-15 years alone over 200 000 instances of sexual violence have occurred in connection with conflicts in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Balkans. Today it is a problem in twelve countries gripped by armed conflicts.

Paet said that it was only within the past few decades that sexual violence became a punishable act under international law. The statute of the International Criminal Court defines systematic sexual violence as a crime against humanity and a war crime, and such acts are also condemned by the Security Council resolution 1820, which Estonia supported.

The Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was created on the basis of the Rome Statute, which came into effect in 2002 and which laid the foundation for the work of the ICC. The trust fund helps the victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Most of these victims are women and children. The trust fund offers them physical as well as psycho-social and material support, if necessary. The Trust Fund for Victims is active in African countries where the ICC is currently carrying out investigations. By today over 80 000 victims and their families have received help from the fund. Its activities are primarily funded through voluntary donations.

The Foreign Ministry is allocating 30 000 euros for the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims.

 

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