Justice Rapid Response has launched a new research paper on the investigation of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) allegations involving children, as part of a new project on enhancing justice for child survivors.
The report, Investigating allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of children occurring in humanitarian settings: Reflections from practice, is geared primarily to humanitarian aid organizations working with vulnerable and marginalized populations in fragile settings.
While recognizing that strategies will only be effective if they are adapted to local realities, the report identifies principles, methods, and modes of operation to overcome the key challenges that arise when investigating SEA involving child victims.
“With this paper, we examine moving forward with a child-centred discussion on how to address and redress sexual exploitation and abuse against children in particularly challenging contexts,” said Federica Tronchin, Head of the International Justice Programme at Justice Rapid Response. “We hope this research will prove useful for humanitarian organizations and humanitarian practitioners alike, and that it will support child survivors in their search for accountability.”
The report, written by Carla Ferstman, establishes how to apply a child rights approach to SEA investigations; identifies examples of lessons learned and good practice from experts working in this or related areas; considers how to apply lessons learned from other fields involving child protection; and highlights gaps or problems that remain to be addressed.
The research methodologies comprised a systematic review of legal standards, policy frameworks applicable to United Nations agencies and humanitarian organizations, interviews with experts, consultation through roundtable discussions, as well as an examination of case studies.
This report is part of the project Enhancing Justice for Child Survivors of SEA instituted by Justice Rapid Response in 2021. The goal of this project and this report is ultimately to raise the standards of investigations of SEA involving children in a truly victim-centred manner. To achieve this, the report seeks to answer the question: what does a victim-centred response to SEA involving child victims that takes into account the best interests of the child look like in both policy terms and operationally?
Justice Rapid Response undertook this project with the support of the Oak Foundation Children First Fund and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
This report was launched at an online discussion on 31 May 2022, click here to watch a recording of the event featuring the following panelists:
Veronique Aubert – Lead on Children and Armed Conflict at Save the Children UK, Special Adviser on Crimes Against and Affecting Children to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Justice Rapid Response Roster Expert
Samuel Emonet – Executive Director, Justice Rapid Response
Yasmin Sooka – South African Human Rights Lawyer and current Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights for South Sudan
Carla Ferstman – Professor at University of Essex’s School of Law, Justice Rapid Response Roster Expert, and author of the report Investigating Allegations of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children Occurring in Humanitarian Settings: Reflections from Practice
Fabian Ilg – Managing Director of the Swiss Crime Prevention Office, SEA and gender-based violence expert, Justice Rapid Response Roster Expert
Shyamala Alagendra – International Criminal Lawyer, Gender & Child Rights Adviser, Justice Rapid Response Roster Expert
Presiana Manolova – Programme Officer, Prevent Child Sexual Abuse Programme, Oak Foundation
Claudio Nardi– Counsellor, Division for Security and Human Rights, Office for Foreign Affairs, Principality of Liechtenstein