Press Release

UN Population Fund Hails Landmark Verdict Branding Rape A Crime Against Humanity

23 February 2001
Author: UNFPA

United Nations, New York – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today hailed the verdict handed down yesterday by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Three individuals were convicted for rape and enslavement of women as crimes against humanity. The crimes were carried out during a 1992-1993 Serb campaign of terror to "cleanse" the Foca area of Bosnia and Herzegovina of Muslims. The three men received sentences of 28, 20 and 12 years.

The Executive Director of UNFPA, Thoraya Obaid, hailed the verdict, saying it effectively established that “the international community will never tolerate such atrocities. The proceedings showed in horrifying detail how countless women suffered unspeakable assaults on their body, soul and dignity. Yesterday, the Tribunal said humanity had suffered with them.”

Florence Hartmann, a spokesperson for the prosecutor, underscored the significance of the verdict, noting that it marked the first time that suspects were convicted for rape as a crime against humanity in cases that did not result in murder.

"That's very important," Hartmann said. "It was recognized as a crime against humanity because we gave evidence that it was a systematic practice – an instrument of terror for ethnic cleansing."

In a May 1999 report entitled Assessment Report on Sexual Violence in Kosovo, UNFPA found similar, systematic rape tactics employed against women and adolescents in Kosovo. The Fund responded by providing counseling and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception, to the rape victims.

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UNFPA is the world’s largest multilateral source of population assistance. About a quarter of all population assistance from donor nations to developing countries is channelled through the Fund. Since it began operations in 1969, the Fund has provided about $5 billion in assistance to virtually all developing countries.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031
Email: dungus@unfpa.org