Contributing to the Achievement of Justice for Victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence by Implementing the Legacy and Experience of International Criminal Courts and Tribunals

Author: Mispa Roux

ISSN: 1996-2193
Affiliations: LLB LLM LLD (UJ), Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg; Head: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Unit, and Deputy Director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC), a Centre of the University of Johannesburg.
Source: Stellenbosch Law Review, Volume 31 Issue 3, 2020, p. 455 – 480


International criminal courts and tribunals have been questioning, improving, and developing the laws on sexual and gender-based violence (“SGBV”), including the rules of procedure and evidence relating to it. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the legacy of these international criminal courts and tribunals in ensuring that all victims of SGBV achieve justice. It is argued that this can, and should, change the archaic and misogynistic way in which laws on SGBV have historically been implemented globally. This article suggests that justice for victims of SGBV can be achieved in three different ways, which are to be implemented in conjunction with one another. Firstly, justice can be achieved by way of accountability, focusing mainly on individual criminal responsibility. Secondly, justice can be achieved by way of reparation that may be ordered by an international criminal court or tribunal as a penalty, in addition to imprisonment. The third and final way suggested to achieve justice for victims is by eradicating the culture of silence, denial and stigmatisation in which victims are shrouded. The article concludes by briefly examining the need for a holistic approach in achieving justice for victims of SGBV that will involve all role-players and will implement all three methods simultaneously. These three levels of justice will be substantiated with reference to the constitutive acts, rules of procedure and evidence, best practice and policy manuals, and jurisprudence of the various international criminal courts and tribunals.