Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Prosecutor's Office v. Nermin Ćupina Ustavni Sud Bosne i Hercegovine (Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2006)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

In 2002, Nermin Ćupina (“Ćupina”) recruited two underage girls and one woman and forced them, through threats of violence to them and their family members, to provide sexual services for money.  Each day, the victims were forced to earn KM 400 through prostitution, all of which Ćupina kept.  The Court of BiH sentenced Ćupina to 12 years’ imprisonment, which it added to Ćupina’s four-year prison sentence from the Cantonal Court in Mostar, resulting in a single sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment after credit for time served.  In addition, in accordance with Article 110 of the Criminal Code of BiH, the Court of BiH confiscated the material gain Ćupina acquired through his criminal enterprise.  The court, relying on the findings of an expert, established that Ćupina made at least BAM 100,000 in 2002 by prostituting the victims.  The court also concluded that because neither Ćupina nor his wife had regular income during 2002, the construction of an apartment valued at BAM 61,481.55 was financed entirely from Ćupina’s criminal enterprise.  The Court of BiH confiscated the apartment and ordered Ćupina to pay the remainder of the estimated material gain, BAM 38,518.45.

Decision available in English here.  

Prosecutor's Office v. Tasim Kučević Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2009)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

Between May 2003 and June 2005, Tasim Kučević (“Kučević”) and his common law wife, Meliha Pjević (“Pjević”), procured and exploited at least six women by forcing them to dance and serve cocktails at their hotel and provide sexual services to customers.  Through advertisements for dancing positions in Spain and Serbia, the couple enticed four women from Russia and Ukraine to come to Serbia; the victims were then trafficked to BiH.  By taking advantage of a Bosnian woman’s drug addiction and a Romanian woman’s illegal immigrant status in BiH, Kučević and Pjević forced two other women into prostitution at the same hotel.  Eight of Kučević’s acquaintances supervised the women, guarded the hotel, and ran the prostitution business.  In 2007, the Court of BiH convicted Kučević and Pjević of Organized Crime in conjunction with Pandering.  In 2009, a panel of the Appellate Division convicted Kučević and Pjević of Organized Crime in relation to Trafficking in Persons in violation of Articles 250(3) and 186(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH.   The panel, taking into consideration extenuating and aggravating factors, sentenced Kučević and Pjević to 12 and six years’ imprisonment, respectively.  The two were also forced to forfeit the material gain from their criminal enterprise, BAM 286,440.  Lastly, the eight men who assisted Kučević and Pjević in trafficking and exploiting the women were convicted of the same charges and sentenced to between three months’ and four years’ imprisonment.

Second instance verdict available in English here.

Prosecutor's Office v. Gojko Janković Sudom Bosne i Hercegovine (Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) (2007)

Gender violence in conflict, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Between April 1992 and November 1993, during the Bosnian War, Gojko Janković, a paramilitary leader within the Srpska Republika Army, participated in a widespread and systematic attack on the non-Serb civilian population of Foča.  Janković’s unit methodically captured civilians, detained them separately according to gender, and killed dozens of men.  During this time, Janković raped at least five girls and women; the soldiers under his command raped scores more.  In addition, Janković and a co-perpetrator kept two teenage girls in sexual slavery at a nearby house for over one year.  In 2005, Janković voluntarily surrendered and was transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (“ICTY”).  Shortly thereafter, the Referral Branch of the ICTY referred Janković’s case to the Court of BiH.  In 2007, the Court of BiH found Janković guilty of Crimes against Humanity under Article 172(1) of the Criminal Code of BiH and sentenced him to 34 years imprisonment.  In 2010, Janković appealed his conviction to the ICTY, arguing the Court of BiH convicted him under a law, the Criminal Code of BiH, which did not exist at the time his crimes were committed.  The ICTY denied his appeal.

Second instance verdict available in English here.

Uganda v. Umutoni High Court at Kampala (International Crimes Division at Kololo) (2014)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The accused was charged with human trafficking and aggravated child trafficking for transporting minor girls, who were promised supermarket jobs in Uganda, from Rwanda to Uganda for the purposes of forced unpaid household labor and prostitution.  The accused pleaded not guilty and maintained that she transported the girls to Uganda with their parents’ permission for a holiday.  The Court found her guilty of the charges related to two of the girls, but found that one of the girls was over the age of majority (19 years old).  The Court sentenced the accused to two concurrent terms of imprisonment: eight years for aggravated child trafficking and five years for trafficking in persons.  

International Case Law

Hadijatou Mani Koraou v. Republic of Niger ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (2008)

Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

Hadijatou Mani, who was born to a mother in slavery, was sold to a local chief at age 12. For the next nine years she was subjected to rape, violence, and forced labor without remuneration. When Niger’s Supreme Court failed to convict her master under Article 270.1-5 of the Nigerien Criminal Code, which made slavery illegal in 2003, Hadijatou brought her case before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice under Article 9(4) of the Supplementary Protocol A/SP.1/01/05. The court ruled that Hadijatou had been a slave under the definition in Article 1 (I) of the Slavery Convention of 1926 and that in failing to convict Hadijatou’s former master, Niger had not upheld its legal responsibility to protect her from slavery under international law. This case was the first ECOWAS ruling on slavery and only the second conviction made under Niger’s 2003 anti-slavery law. The case gained a high level of publicity, setting the precedent for women to fight back against the traditional slavery practices common to Niger and other ECOWAS nations. As of 2009, there had been approximately 30 more cases upholding the prohibition of slavery in Niger.


Wartime Female Slavery: Enslavement? (2011)

Sexual violence and rape, Gender violence in conflict

By Patricia Viseur Sellers. 44 CORNELL INT'L L.J. 1 (2011). Copyright 2011 by the Cornell International Law Journal.