A Comparative Analysis of the Application of the 1951 Refugee Convention to Victims of Sexual Violence in South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda

Keywords: Access to courts, refugees, sexual violence

Abstract

This article seeks to ascertain whether refugees who are victims of sexual violence in contracting states enjoy access to courts per Article 16 of the United Nations (UN) Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention). It does so by comparing the situation of urban refugees in South Africa with that of refugees in camps in Tanzania and settlements in Uganda, beginning with a description of what "accessing courts" entails in the respective domestic criminal justice systems and of what mechanisms are in place for addressing sexual offences. It further uses the qualitative analysis of documented prosecuted cases of sexual violence in South African, Tanzanian and Ugandan courts between 2013-2017, 2009-2016 and 2013-2017 respectively to establish if these countries prosecute cases of sexual violence suffered by their citizens and whether claims of such violations affecting refugees also enjoy the same treatment. The enquiry found that of 328 documented prosecuted cases of sexual offences in South Africa, victims who were citizens were a majority in number. In Tanzania there appeared to be few prosecuted cases of sexual violence against refugees, but given that limited documentation is available, it is difficult to assess the actual figures. In Uganda the 187 recorded prosecuted cases of sexual offences in the years of investigation all related to citizens, despite the introduction of a mobile court to refugee settlements. Overall, this paper recommends that the countries under review adopt measures to ensure the prompt prosecution of cases of sexual violence against refugees and thereby enable them to access courts and testify against their assailants.

 

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Author Biography

Oghenerioborue Esther Eberechi, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Public Law, Nelson R Mandela School of Law, University of Forte Hare, East London Campus

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Public Law, Nelson R Mandela School of Law, University of Fort Hare, East London South Africa.

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List of Abbreviations

AIDS Acquired immunodeficiency Syndrome

AJPS American Journal of Political Science

HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus

IFLA The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

LGBT Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender

NG0 Non-governmental Organisations

PTSD Post-traumatic stress disorder

STD Sexually transmitted disease

STI Sexually transmitted infections

UN United Nations

UNCHR United Nations High Commossioner for Refugees

UNICEF United Nations International Chilren’s Emergency Funds

Published
2020-07-30
How to Cite
Eberechi, O. E. (2020). A Comparative Analysis of the Application of the 1951 Refugee Convention to Victims of Sexual Violence in South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 23, 1-55. https://doi.org/10.17159/1727-3781/2020/v23i0a6225
Section
Articles