Lebanon: ICJ seminar on collection and evaluation of evidence of sexual and gender-based violence

Lebanon: ICJ seminar on collection and evaluation of evidence of sexual and gender-based violence

From 27 to 28 October 2020, the ICJ, in collaboration with the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW), held a seminar on recommended practice with respect to evidentiary standards in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of sexual and gender-based violence offences in Lebanon.

Consultations held by the ICJ with the Lebanese authorities and with practitioners in July 2019 revealed the need to support and bolster the capacity of criminal justice system actors to effectively investigate, prosecute, adjudicate and sanction SGBV, prompting the ICJ, together with NCLW, to organize the seminar.

The seminar accordingly aimed to address the significant gaps in law and procedure and practical obstacles to ensuring key evidence be identified, collected and assessed in a manner consistent with international standards, including Lebanon’s obligations under international human rights law. It also aimed to provide a platform to connect Lebanese judges, prosecutors, police officers, lawyers, forensic practitioners and international experts, with a view to identifying solutions that will ensure women and girls’ effective access to justice for SGBV in Lebanon, in addition to accountability for, and protection from, SGBV.

The discussions predominantly focused on the international law and standards that apply to the identification, gathering, storing, admissibility, exclusion and evaluation of evidence in SGBV cases and how such standards may be used to fill gaps and strengthen domestic law and practice. Participants also discussed the adverse impact patriarchal and other harmful stereotypes have on investigation, prosecution and adjudication processes.

The seminar commenced with opening remarks from NCLW’s President and the International Commission of Jurists’ Middle East and North Africa Programme Director. Speakers included practitioners from international and domestic courts and tribunals, as well as ICJ staff.

The seminar followed the publication of ICJ guidance and recommendations to criminal justice actors in its report Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Lebanon, published on 22 October 2020.

Informed by international law and standards, the ICJ will now formulate recommendations based on the identification by the seminar’s participants of the reforms needed with respect to the Lebanese framework and practice. These recommendations will be included in the ICJ’s forthcoming publication on evidentiary rules and recommended practices in cases of SGBV in Lebanon, which will be published and disseminated among practitioners in Lebanon.

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