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Estonia Supports International Criminal Court in Prevention of Grave Crimes

30.09.2013

Nr 301-E


At the high-level meeting organized by Estonia at the UN General Assembly in New York about reducing impunity for sexual violence in armed conflicts, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet noted that unfortunately perpetrators of serious human rights violations are often left unpunished. “Sexual violence is used as a weapon of war in many armed conflicts around the world,” stated Paet. “We consider it important to fight against sexual violence occurring both in armed conflicts as well as in their aftermath. It is essential to ascertain possible offenders and bring them to court,” he added.

The meeting, which was led by Estonia and took place at the UN headquarters, also featured the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, the President of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court Tiina Intelmann, and ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
In his speech, Paet emphasised the significance of the International Criminal Court in crime prevention. “The International Criminal Court has a very important role in the fight against war crimes and crimes against humanity, especially by punishing culprits and protecting the rights of victims,” noted Paet. “But the court also has a very important role in prevention – the knowledge that no crime will go unpunished can deter future crimes or the continuation of current ones,” declared the Estonian foreign minister.

He added that the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court, includes a broader definition of crimes of sexual violence than previous ad hoc tribunals created to administer justice over war crimes. “More forceful prosecution of perpetrators of sexual violence will reduce the use of such crimes as weapons of war,” stressed Paet. “Of course it is important that every country take responsibility for protecting its citizens and prosecuting criminals, but unfortunately this is often not the case – that is why we support the worldwide extension of the Rome Statute to assure prosecution of offenders even when domestic accountability is not possible or desired,” he added.

According to Paet, Estonia supports the activity of The Trust Fund for Victims, which was established on the basis of the Rome Statute. “In countries where the criminal court conducts investigations, the trust fund offers support to the victims of crimes and assists the victims of sexual violence and rape,” said Paet. “This year, Estonia has supported The Trust Fund for Victims with 30,000 Euros,” he noted. 

Paet stated that Estonia has also supported the reduction of impunity and the fight against sexual violence through its development cooperation resources. “In 2013, we have supported the UNICEF project to fight against gender-based violence in the Central African Republic,  the activities of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the fight against sexual violence in armed conflicts with 50,000 Euros, and the UN rule of law expert team on sexual violence with 50,000 Euros,” he added.

As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet asserts that Estonia’s priorities in the field of human rights are protection of the rights of women, consideration of the role of gender in conflict resolution, and the fight against impunity. The Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict cooperates actively with the International Criminal Court, whose President of the Assembly of States Parties is Estonian Ambassador Tiina Intelmann.

Ambassador Intelmann noted at the meeting that assisting the victims of sexual violence can be extremely complex because admitting to being tortured can lead to stigmatisation or being ostracised by the community. “The situation is especially difficult for children born as a result of rape because they are not accepted by neither the mother nor the community.”
Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry      

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