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Stage set for Sri Lanka bashing at London meet Rape, sexual violence in conflict:

2014 May 06

by Shamindra Ferdinando

A global summit on sexual violence scheduled to take place in London early next month is likely to be used against Sri Lanka, senior government officials told The Island.

The UN recently accused Sri Lanka of rape and sexual violence during the post-conflict period.

UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura late last month said that she was concerned and worried about the situation in Sri Lanka. The international media quoted Bangura as having said that she urged Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona regarding the need to designate a focal person on the issue.Bangura categorised Sri Lanka among 21 countries where rape and other sexual violence had taken place in current and recent conflicts. The UN report covering 2013 dealt with sexual violence in Sri Lanka, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Guinea, Libya, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Asked whether the government was ready to counter propaganda offensive, a senior government official said that there had been no systematic abuses during the conflict or post-war period. Nothing could be as surprising as the UN report that dealt with the situation during 2013 faulting Sri Lanka, he said, adding that the government would have to take up the issue with the UN mission in Colombo. The official said that there hadn’t been a similar international gathering focusing on rape and sexual violence in conflict.

The London event at ExCel Centre is co-chaired by British Foreign Secretary, William Hague and Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie. Hague took up rape and sexual violence in conflict on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM ) in Colombo last November.

The British armed forces, too, have been accused of sexual violence. A complaint filed on January 10, 2014, with the International Criminal Court (ICC) by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) dealt with a spate of such allegations. A 250-page dossier alleged that apart from killing detainees in British military custody, between 2003 and 2008 there had been many cases of sexual assault, threats of rape, death and torture. The PIL and ECCHR want UK investigated under Article 15 of the Rome Statute.

ECCHR Legal Advisor Andreas Schueller told The Island that initial procedure at the ICC took a couple of months. The ICC was yet to make its decision known to PIL and ECCHR, Schueller said.

An External Affairs Ministry official said that rape and sexual abuse were issues of concern not only in countries affected by conflict but the developed world as well. A recent survey undertaken by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) exposed the failure on the part of EU member states to tackle an extremely dismal situation. According to the report, a third of women in Europe have suffered a physical or sexual assault and five per cent have been raped. FRA’s director, Morten Kjaerum was quoted by the AFP as having said that the report showed that physical, sexual and psychological violence against women was an extensive human rights abuse in all EU member states.

 

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=102735

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