Access to Justice for Young Refugee Women in Nakivale Refugee Settlement : A Human Rights-Based Approach

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för samhällsstudier (SS)

Abstract: This thesis investigates young refugee women’s experience of the process of seeking access to justice for cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda. A Human Rights-based Approach (HRBA) is chosen as an analytical framework to help conceptualise access to justice and to recognise Uganda’s commitment to refugees. A qualitative explanatory approach follows the narrative of Burundian and Congolese women.    Findings show that Nakivale refugee settlement has an overwhelming demand for legal services and support. Refugee women can raise a claim for justice through the established administrative structures in place within the settlement. All refugee women were aware of their entitlements to a remedy and on the process of reporting SGBV. Yet, the analysis shows that none of the SGBV-survivors of rape or sexual exploitation was able to have access to justice. Several barriers were brought forward, such as corruption among refugee welfare committees; limited staff and resources among partner organisations; a bureaucratic referral system; poor police investigations and an inability to persecute perpetrators. The consequences without effective and timely remedies led the interviewed women into further poverty and a continuation of violence and abuse.   This thesis concludes that Refugee Welfare Committees have to be attributed to some sort of compensation as validation for their work as justice providers to mitigate corruption among their leaders. Further research is encouraged to look into possibilities of extending the mandate and training for Refugee Welfare Committees, for refugee-based structures to be able to handle cases of SGBV.

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