NEW DAWN ON BOUGAINVILE
Tuesday May 17th,2011
By Aloysius Laukai
This is a report from Mrs. Marilyn Havini who is a human rights defender on Bougainville.
Marilyn just returned from Geneva where four Pacific Nations were under review this year.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN CONFLICT AND POST-CONFLICT IN THE PACIFIC
Human Rights Defender Mrs. Marilyn Havini from Bougainville, in the nation of PAPUA NEW GUINEA has just returned from across the world where she joined other Pacific representatives in Geneva to speak for civil society and especially women who suffer in conflict and post conflict environments in the Pacific Region.
The following messages were conveyed at a PACIFIC SIDE EVENT as a voice for CIVIL SOCIETY INPUT TO UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL at the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) for 4 Pacific Nations under review in 2nd – 11th May 2011 Sessions. The Pacific Nations currently under review are Palau, Tuesday 3rd May, Solomon Islands 4th May, Samoa 9th May and Papua New Guinea 11th May
Women are the silent and forgotten victims in places of recent wars and ongoing post conflict environments such as Bougainville, Solomon Islands, and Fiji:
• Rape has been used as a weapon of war, and we desperately need to identify the many victims who suffer without counseling, medical assistance, justice mechanisms and reparations to assist these women and young girls.
• Investigative and prosecution capacity is lacking in our justice systems. Police are not specifically trained to handle violence against women and the institutional capacity is lacking.
• Many widows and abandoned mothers are now single parents struggling to raise and educate children born of rape or orphaned from war or born during crisis periods when no services left a ‘lost generation’.
• Conflict disrupted families; their homes and villages were destroyed and plundered. Widespread suffering in overcrowded conditions lacking proper shelter affects breakdown of family life. Sexual crimes within families include trauma based domestic violence, rape within marriage, incest, polygamy and serial adultery with families of women and children left abandoned by their fathers and or mothers.
• Young girl victims of incest and rape risk their lives and the lives of unwanted children with abortion and infanticide. There are no services to assist the girl child – RRRT research is revealing that up to 50% of all girls are assaulted or ‘accept’ sexual advances before the age of 15
• Guns exist in post conflict communities and their ‘hidden’ threat is an ongoing source of fear and intimidation to civil society
• Missing relatives and loved ones are lying in mass graves that prevent development in major public spaces – also the forensic recovery of our dead will assist grieving process to heal mental stress and ease suffering
The SIDE EVENT was a space for non-government stakeholders to present important and current information to nations and organizations at the United Nations on the Human Rights situations in their countries and highlight critical recommendations to be implemented as follow up to the UPR.
For Pacific women to receive international support for their Government initiatives to bring PEACE to our communities and Freedom of Movement (especially dismantling of roadblocks); important for all stakeholders of ongoing conflict and post conflict areas especially the countries under UPR review this session Solomon Islands and Bougainville.
Women Human Rights Defenders of the Pacific and Civil Society requests United Nations and Regional Peace Keeping Country stakeholders to assist our Pacific Nations Weapons Disposal Programs and to institute mandatory Trauma Counseling for all former combatants.
Pacific Governments to invite key Special Rapporteur mandates such as for Human Rights Defenders, Independence of the Judiciary, Violence Against Women and Sexual exploitation of children to make Country visits.
Request for United Nations Assistance for Pacific countries in Conflict and Post Conflict with technical assistance and human resource training to compile DATA BASE RECORDS of HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES with the urgent need to address needs of victims and for Good Governance Planning in the post –conflict period …And… to compile a DATA BASE RECORD of all RECONCILIATIONS (formal and informal, official government planned and community based) with the urgent need to identify the success or otherwise of these ceremonies and to address the needs of survivors and victims who have yet to experience reconciliation.
Request United Nations assistance to Pacific Governments in Conflict and Post Conflict Nations to establish Human Rights Commissions and TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE MECHANISMS that will address and redress the war crimes that were committed.
Assistance from International Organizations to assist Pacific Governments in developing and promoting gender sensitive legislation incorporating ICCPR, ICESCR, CEDAW, CRC CRPD and UNSCR 1325 in Conflict and Post Conflict Countries.
Request expertise from United Nations or referred agencies who can provide FORENSIC TEAMS to assist the people in recovering bodies from mass graves and known sites where bodies have been dumped during war and conflict.
Encourage Governments to partner with civil society including women’s groups to advance protection of human rights and ensure civil society is able to operate with independence and resources for the benefit of the people as part of a healthy nation state.
Each country will have obligations for agreed recommendations which need to be implemented before the UN Human Rights Council reviews Pacific Nations again in a 4 year cycle to show that action has been taken.