Time to act on Sri Lanka

Sexual Violence    The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict began on June 10-13, 2014, on the banks of the Thames in London. The Summit is organized by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie. According to the UK government, it will be the biggest meeting ever held on this subject and the conference will launch an International Protocol to help strengthen prosecutions. Delegations from over 140 countries are to participate, along with legal experts, academics, religious leaders and many others. There are many survivors present.

The four-day conference attended by over 1,000 delegates from well over 100 countries is scheduled began in London on June 10. The Sri Lankan government did not attend the high-profile summit on sexual violence in London nor will it sign the “Declaration of Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict.”

External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris responding to a letter received from Minister of State Hugo Swire of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) acknowledged the importance of the project undertaken by the United Kingdom, but said that Sri Lanka is unable to either participate in a four-day conference scheduled to commence in London or approve the Declaration due to unequal treatment the country had received in the hands of a section of the international community, authoritative sources said.

Bianca Jagger Founder and Chair, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation in a scathing attack on Sri Lanka  asks Why has the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict forgotten the Sri Lankan survivors?  She says I have appealed to William Hague and Angelina Jolie to include sexual violence and torture in Sri Lanka in the agenda to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, and broaden the remit of the Stabilization Unit Team of Experts. It is critical that they include Sri Lanka as one of the countries to which they are assigned. I urge them also to lend their voices to the plight of those survivors who are being sent from the UK back to Sri Lanka to face further torture or death. 

The objectives of the summit are admirable and they could have a profound impact in ending sexual violence in conflict, and that sexual violence is not an inevitable part of conflict.  Foreign Secretary Hague and Special Envoy Angelina Jolie’s determination to “shatter the culture of impunity for sexual violence.” The Foreign Secretary calls ending sexual violence in conflict “a moral issue for our generation.” Sexual violence in Sri Lanka is not on the conference agenda. The team is working on both ongoing (DR Congo, Syria) and historic (Libya, Bosnia, Rwanda) cases of sexual violence in conflict — and has recently expanded its remit to cover more countries including Burma… Yet Sri Lanka, where rape has been used as a weapon of war for many years of brutal civil conflict, is not being examined.

Nor is the UK providing a safe haven for victims of torture and sexual violence in conflict. Refugees are being deported from the UK back to Sri Lanka to face further torture or even death.

I have met many victims of sexual violence, from Bosnia to Guatemala. I was very shaken by the brutal accounts of sexual violence in Sri Lanka. Rape is systematic and widespread against both men and women. Horrific crimes are being committed with total impunity.

Read Post by Bianca Jagger

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