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Kenya experienced widespread sexual violence during the post-election period in 2007-2008, leading Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to launch the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, a multi-year training and advocacy initiative, in 2011. This program aims to forge coalitions among medical, law enforcement, and legal experts to help respond to survivors of sexual violence.

In February 2013, PHR co-filed a petition with eight survivors of sexual violence and four Kenyan civil society organizations. This constitutional challenge against the government of Kenya argues that the state must implement measures to protect civilians from widespread sexual violence and to provide survivors with adequate access to justice. Though a slow judicial process is anticipated, the case has already begun to garner the attention of national and international news outlets.

In June 2014, PHR brought a delegation of 28 people to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London, including five delegates from the legal, judicial, medical, and police sectors in Kenya.

Watch this video, debuted at the summit, to learn more about PHR’s work in Kenya.

U.S. National Security Advisor Attacks International Justice and Accountability (September 10, 2018)

White House National Security Advisor, John Bolton, today called the International Criminal Court (ICC) “fundamentally illegitimate” and threatened to ban its judges and prosecutors from the United States.

Survivors of International Crimes Still Await Justice on 20th Anniversary of Rome Statute (July 17, 2018)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said today that the promise of justice for international crimes remains elusive 20 years after the adoption of the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Rome Statute, which provides the most comprehensive legal articulation of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, gave rise to a permanent international criminal court to intervene where states are either “unwilling or unable” to do so themselves. In the two decades since the adoption of the Rome Statute, the ICC has been thwarted by politics, the court’s cumbersome structure, and resource constraints, which have made it difficult to deliver meaningful justice to the many hundreds of thousands of victims affected by unconscionable crimes.

U.S. Withdrawal from Human Rights Council Undermines Accountability (June 19, 2018)

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is deeply disappointed and concerned by the United States government’s decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, a move it called counterproductive and damaging.

Civilians Must Be Protected as Hudeidah Comes Under Assault (June 13, 2018)

Physicians for Human Rights is horrified by an attack launched today by the Saudi-led coalition on the Yemeni city of Hudeidah, despite repeated calls for all parties to exercise military restraint on this vital port which serves as a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of civilians.

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A Brewing Humanitarian Catastrophe as the Battle for Idlib Looms (August 30, 2018)

The Syrian government is gearing up for a full-scale offensive on the city of Idlib, the last remaining opposition stronghold. The implications for the civilian population are catastrophic.

Yazidis: The Endless Tragedy (August 3, 2018)

ISIS has been defeated and the organizational structure of its so-called Islamic State has collapsed, liberating almost all its occupied territories. However, the tragedy for the people of the religious Yazidi minority continues.

DNA Technology and the Denial of Justice for Survivors of Sexual Violence (November 29, 2017)

DNA analysis is often lauded as an invaluable tool for prosecutors. But it’s not a panacea, and our exaggerated dependence on it threatens to derail countless cases of sexual violence.

PHR Awarded 2017 Dodd Prize in Human Rights (November 28, 2017)

On November 2, 2017, Physicians for Human Rights received the 2017 Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights at the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center in Storrs, Connecticut. As part of the formal award ceremony, former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd and the Center’s leadership presented PHR Executive Director Donna McKay and board chairman Kerry Sulkowicz with the award.

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Yemen: Attacks on Health May 2018 Newsletter (May 2018)

Despite efforts to renew peace talks, the Yemen conflict reached its third anniversary in March 2018 and has left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, nearly 9,500 dead, 55,000 injured, and two million displaced over the past three years. As fighting intensified in al-Hudaydah and Taizz Governorates, humanitarian agencies expressed increasing concern about the safety of civilians.

Joint Letter to Turkish President Erdoğan Condemning Persecution of Medical Professionals (January 2018)

PHR has signed a joint letter to Turkish President Erdoğan expressing grave concern over the ongoing persecution of the Turkish Medical Association (TMA). The TMA’s leadership was arrested this week following days of threats and protests over a recent statement by the group criticizing war as a public health threat.

PHR Remembers its Founder, Dr. Jonathan Fine (January 2018)

Dr. Jonathan Fine (1931-2018), who died in Cambridge, Massachusetts on January 17, 2018, was the founder and first executive director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). A primary care physician raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, Fine was already a student activist as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, before going on to receive his medical training at Yale University and an MPH from Johns Hopkins University.

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Featured Campaign

Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones

As efforts to support legal redress for survivors of mass rape intensify in Central and East Africa, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is working to improve the abilities of the health and legal communities to build prosecutions of sexual violence crimes, in collaboration with a number of local partners in the region. Read More »

Featured Expert

Karen Naimer

Karen Naimer, JD, LLM, MA

Karen Naimer directs PHR's Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, a training and advocacy initiative that bolsters the ability of doctors, nurses, police officers, lawyers, and judges to support survivors of sexual violence and to collect, document, and preserve forensic evidence related to these crimes. The program cultivates networks of collaboration among medical, legal, and law enforcement personnel to strengthen prosecutions of and accountability for sexual violence in East and Central Africa and elsewhere. Read More »