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ICC involves women in the Acholi and Lango sub-regions of northern Uganda in discussion about the Court

(EMAILWIRE.COM, July 15, 2008 ) The Hague, ICC-CPI-20080714-PR340_ENG -- On 5 and 6 July 2008, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Public Information and Outreach Unit in Uganda, in co-operation with the Coalition of Women’s Organisations facilitated four interactive sessions for 160 women’s groups representatives from 30

sub-counties and parishes in the districts of Gulu, Amuru and Soroti in the Acholi and Teso sub-regions of northern and north-eastern Uganda.

The basis for targeting women is manifold: during the conflict in northern Uganda, rape and other forms of sexual and gender based violence were alleged to have been committed against women on a massive scale, making the work of the Court particularly relevant to them. In addition, because of the low level of literacy amongst grass root women in the war affected communities, it makes it difficult for them to access information about the ICC; furthermore, social and cultural factors inhibit them to actively participate at general meetings, and as such, concerns unique to them are often left unaddressed. The Outreach Unit, being the main conduit to ensure that all stakeholders in the most affected communities have their questions answered through a sustainable two-way communication, and with an opportunity to have those concerns communicated to the Court, has included in its strategy programmes specifically designed to enhance the active participation of women in discussions about the activities of the Court.

During the sessions, the ICC outreach staff provided information on the mandate of the Court and on the crimes the Prosecutor has investigated in northern Uganda, with emphasis on gender related crimes such as rape and sexual slavery. Participants were also informed on how victims can participate in the judicial proceedings of the Court.

The participants raised a number of questions and concerns: they appealed to the international community and State Parties to expedite the arrest and surrender to the ICC of Joseph Kony and the other three top LRA commanders whose arrest warrants are still outstanding. They also reiterated the need to alleviate the suffering of women victims of the alleged crimes dealt with by the Court.

In her closing statement, the Chairperson of the Coalition of Women’s Groups commended the Outreach Unit for designing programmes targeting women, giving them the opportunity to share their opinions and concerns about ICC issues objectively. She commented that, in view of the fact that all the participants present at the sessions were women, “It gives us confidence and trust to freely discuss our concerns without hesitation since amongst us, a number of us could have suffered one or more of the crimes discussed here today”. As mothers and as influential people in their homes and communities, they recognised the need to work in partnership with the Outreach Unit to disseminate accurate information about the Court to other women at a grass root level. They also agreed to use existing women’s local networks to raise public awareness about the ICC.

On the whole, the ICC Outreach programme for women in Uganda aims to target different groups of women in the most affected communities who would not normally attend a general meeting in a town hall, including nurses, women counsellors, farmers and business women amongst others.

For further information, please contact Ms Maria Mabinty Kamarra, Field Public Information and Outreach Co-ordinator for Uganda. Tel: +256772700655/ +31646448830, email: Maria.Kamara@icc-cpi.int
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The International Criminal Court (ICC)
Maria Kamara
+256772700655
Maria.Kamara@icc-cpi.int

Source: EmailWire.com

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