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News Posted on March 22, 2013

Professor Bennoune Comments on South African Investigation of Zimbabwe Rape Cases for Al Jazeera

Professor Karima Bennoune commented for Al Jazeera on the government of South Africa's use of "universal jurisdiction" to investigate allegations of a campaign of systematic, politically motivated rape in neighboring Zimbabwe.  The probe marks the first time that rape is being investigated as a crime against humanity using universal jurisdiction, a means of addressing international crimes that take place in countries like Zimbabwe that have not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Professor Bennoune applauded the move by South Africa to investigate.  She said that since the alleged Zimbabwean perpetrators would have to cross onto South African soil before they could be apprehended and tried, international politics may have to play a role as the case moves forward.

"The application of universal jurisdiction often happens at the intersection of law and politics," Bennoune said. "The evidence will have to be found to build a case, and then the political will has to be mustered to go forward as well."

Karima Bennoune is an author, lecturer, teacher, and international law scholar as well as the first Arab-American to be honored with the Derrick A. Bell Award from the Section on Minority Groups of the Association of American Law Schools.  She joined the King Hall faculty from Rutgers in 2012.  Her current projects include the book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism, forthcoming from W.W. Norton & Company in August.

Al Jazeera