Annotated Bibliography on Comparative and International Law relating to Forced Marriage

6.0 International Tribunals

6.1 Special Court for Sierra Leone

The Special Court for Sierra Leone introduced forced marriage as a new crime against humanity. The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations and is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996.[3] In order to be prosecuted as a crime against humanity, forced marriage must be part of a widespread and systemic attack on a civilian population.

1. Sankoh, Osman Benk. “RUF, AFRC Charged With Forced Marriage” Africa News Service (20 May 2004).

This article discusses the court appearance of the leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Armed Forced Revolutionary Council (AFRC) on the charge of forced marriage. This is the first time forced marriage will be prosecuted as a crime against humanity.

2. Scharf, Michael and Suzanne Mattler. Forced Marriage: Exploring the Viability of the Special Court for Sierra Leone's New Crime Against Humanity Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-35 (October 2005), online: SSRN.

Scharf and Mattler examine whether or not forced marriage should have been introduced as a crime of humanity and conclude that it is valid and can be tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone as well as other war crimes tribunals. To be prosecuted as a crime against humanity, forced marriage must be part of a widespread and systemic attack on a civilian population. Since the act of forced marriage cannot be fully grasped as a sum of the other crimes comprising it, a new crime is necessary.

6.2 International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

The Security Council of the United Nations created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1994, and it was established for the prosecution of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.[4] There have been suggestions to introduce forced marriage as a crime of sexual violence at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, because by neglecting forced marriage as a crime, the international community sends a message that acts of sexual violence done within the confines of marriage are acceptable.

1. Kalra, Monika Satya. “Forced Marriage: Rwanda's Secret Revealed” (2001) 7 U.C. Davis Journal of International Law and Policy 197.

The author of this article argues that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) should charge forced marriage as a crime of sexual violence. It outlines the sexual violence which took place during the Rwandan genocide and discusses the importance of charging perpetrators with the crime of forced marriage to ensure full recognition of the gravity of the crimes committed against Tutsi women. By not trying the crime of forced marriage, the international community sends a message that acts of sexual violence are acceptable if they are done within the confines of “marriage”. The legal framework for prosecuting forced marriage under the ICTR Statute is discussed.

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