EULEX training workshop on investigation and prosecution of cases of sexual violence related to conflict

19 May 2016

A two day training workshop organized by the EULEX mission was attended by approximately 25 local Rule of Law practitioners; including police investigators, prosecutors and judges. The overall objective of the training was to enhance the capacities of Kosovo law enforcement institutions to successfully investigate, prosecute and adjudicate cases of sexual violence related to conflict. Key speaker and external expert Max Marcus led the training. Mrs Marcus is an international criminal prosecutor, with approximately 20 years’ of international criminal practice experience in criminal justice, and has specialized in cases of sexual violence related to conflict. There are many challenges related to the investigation and prosecution of war crimes containing elements of sexual violence. The workshop offered through discussion and debate, training on best practices and a possibility for the participants to exchange views and recommendations on sensitive aspects of investigations and prosecutions in cases. Due to the sensitive nature, of the crime the survivors have been reluctant to come forward and only in recent years are beginning to share their experiences and seeking access to justice. 

The training focused on practical examples on how to deal with war crimes and what kind of evidence is needed on such cases, ranging from, greater understanding of sexual violence and developments regarding sexual crimes related to conflict (legal framework and practice) to the overall planning of an investigation and how one would build a case file; assessment practice and prior documentation of investigation processes including evidence collection and documentation of crimes of sexual violence. Gender-sensitive approaches are required in statement-taking, data collection and hearings, including interview settings of victims/witnesses in investigations including measures to protect, empower and support victims and witnesses. 

A follow up workshop in the beginning of June 2016 is expected in order to present training materials and coaching curriculum for future training purposes. The project intends to support the implementation of the Action Plan on Access to Justice for victims of sexual violence during the war, adopted by the Kosovo Ministry of Justice in 2015. As such, the training was organized in close cooperation and coordination with Kosovo Judicial Institute, Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, Kosovo Judicial Council and UN Women.