Swaziland: challenging sexual and gender based violence in the context of fair trial rights

The ICJ held a colloquium on this issue on 30-31 July. Judges, magistrates, lawyers, members of academia, and civil society leaders from SADC, ECOWAS and the East African Community attended the event.

The Acting Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Swaziland, MCB Maphalala and the Secretary General of ICJ, Wilder Tayler, officially opened the colloquium.

The participants discussed the concept of gender-based violence; the efforts to combat impunity in sexual offences and gender based violence at the national, regional and international level and made recommendations to eliminate the scourge.

One of the key objectives of the workshop was to contribute to the process of enacting sexual offences and domestic violence legislation in Swaziland.

The Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill of Swaziland is before the house of assembly, which has asked stakeholders to submit their views, on what should be included in the law.

The judges, lawyers and civil society leaders had robust and honest discussions touching on effective innovative strategies to combat sexual and gender based violence.

Some of the recommendations included the training of judicial officers to be gender sensitive, changing societal attitudes and prejudices, raising awareness amongst parliamentarians, creative interpretation and application of regional and international standards when adjudicating cases of sexual offences and gender based violence as well as observance of fair trial standards at the national, regional and international level.

The colloquium was made possible with funding from IrishAid.

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