Eswatini (Swaziland): ICJ facilitates integrated meeting of justice sector stakeholders involved in combatting sexual and gender-based violence

On 25 July 2018, the ICJ facilitated an integrated meeting of governmental stakeholders in the justice chain involved in different aspects of combatting sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland), the first meeting of its kind.

The meeting was convened by ICJ Commissioner and Principal Judge of the High Court of Eswatini, Justice Q. M. Mabuza. It followed a meeting held in February 2018 on combating SGBV in Eswatini and an ICJ report on key challenges to achieving justice for gross human rights violations in Eswatini, the latter of which recommended that justice sector stakeholders involved in the investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of, and provision of redress to victims for, acts of SGBV should convene six-monthly meetings so as to develop a common and integrated approach to the effective combating of SGBV.

The integrated meeting involved senior officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the police, correctional services, and the judiciary.

The meeting discussed the fight against SGBV in the context of the Guidelines on Combating Sexual Violence and its Consequences in Africa, and other international standards. It considered the national legal and policy framework on SGBV; practices and challenges in the investigation and prosecution of SGBV; the sanctioning of SGBV offences; and the rehabilitation of sexual and domestic violence offenders by correctional services. Perspectives of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the police and the judiciary were emphasized during discussions.

Stakeholders discussed issues with a view to identifying gaps and challenges in national law, policy and practice when measured against regional and global standards and best practices, as well as with a view to considering potential solutions to those gaps and challenges. The meeting agreed on next steps, including on concrete action that aligns with and/or augments the National Strategy to End Violence. Stakeholders agreed that they should all be involved in the early stages of cases involving SGBV.

Stakeholders also agreed that the recently enacted Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act will only be effectively implemented if justice sector stakeholders are well coordinated. Stakeholders agreed that integrated meetings should be held regularly, at intervals of no less than six months including, if possible, before the end of 2018.

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