Practice Relating to Rule 93. Rape and Other Forms of Sexual Violence
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000) provides that acts of rape are criminally prosecuted. It states that rape is a grave breach of the law of armed conflict.
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) restates Article 7(1) of the 1998 ICC Statute. It adds that “forced prostitution and any attempts on decency” and “rape” are crimes against humanity.
France’s Penal Code (1992), as amended in 2010, states in its section on war crimes common to both international and non-international armed conflicts:
Forcing a person protected by the international law of armed conflict into prostitution, unwanted pregnancy and sterilization against that person’s will, or inflicting any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity against such person, is punishable by life imprisonment.
In 2008, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France stated:
[The UN Security Council] Working Group [on Children and Armed Conflict] … considers and formulates recommendations concerning … grave violations of children’s rights, including sexual violence. During a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo last month, I was able to see on the ground the seriousness and extent of the widespread, systematic and premeditated use of sexual crime as an instrument of war. That barbarity concerns us all. There, too, our failure to act would be reprehensible. I welcome the fact that the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo recognizes this as the most serious crime.
The Council’s Working Group must absolutely strengthen its action on this question. In its recommendations it must demand that the belligerents draw up action plans to combat sexual violence and follow through on their implementation.
Some might find it paradoxical that we ask the belligerents themselves to combat these crimes, but it is essential. At the same time, the military leadership must bear this in mind. It may be a paradox, it may even seem immoral, but it is effective.
The Working Group should strengthen its efforts to combat impunity by relentlessly demanding the arrest of those responsible for rape and call on Governments to act in this regard.
In 2009, in a statement calling for the respect of international humanitarian law, which provided examples of serious violations that had recently occurred in several armed conflicts around the world, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France stated:
Children, some less than 10 years old, are enlisted … as sex slaves.
In various conflicts, rape is increasingly being used in a systematic, planned and large-scale manner; in short, it is used as a genuine weapon of war, whether in the Kivus or in Sudan, with almost total impunity. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a woman is raped every 30 minutes; 30,000 were raped in the Kivus in the first half of 2007.