Committee urges government to redouble its efforts to prevent sexual violence in war conflict

Lord Loomba was recently invited to participate in the inaugural All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative, by the Committee Chairman Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, in December at the Committee Room at the House of Lords.

The speakers included the Hon Diar Yousif Prince of Yazidis, The Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN and the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Hon Diar Yousif Prince of Yazidis

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

Lord Loomba strongly supported the initiatives taken by the Sexual Violence in Conflict Committee that published the research report Sexual Violence in Conflict: A War Crime, in which it calls on the Government to set out ambitious policy goals for reducing conflict-related sexual violence to ensure the international momentum created by the Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) is not lost.

The report makes clear that the Government must demonstrate its commitment to the PSVI and the NGOs and local organisations that are critical in delivering it. The Government should clearly articulate the strategic goals for the PSVI and set out a strategy for their delivery including providing long-term commitment and resources. The Government must resist the temptation to narrowly focus the PSVI on just the Middle East or religious extremism.

The Government should also produce an annual report to Parliament on its progress in achieving the objectives set for PSVI. The Chairman of the Committee, Baroness Nickholson of Winterbourne said that sexual violence in conflict is horrendous and barbaric crime that ruins lives and destroys families and communities.

“It is right that the UK Government has prioritised the challenge of eradicating it. We have seen from recent events in the Middle East and beyond that this horrific practice is still all too common. However, it is not inevitable; it can and should be stopped and perpetrators brought to justice,” the Baroness quoted.

The recommendations of the Committee include:

1) The government must redouble its efforts to prevent sexual violence in conflict.

2) The UN recently reported evidence of conflict-related sexual violence occurring in 19 countries. The government must avoid the temptation to narrow the focus of the PSVI solely on the Middle East. The report considers multiple the atrocities committed by multiple aggressors in Iraq and Syria. The access to international jurisdictions such as the ICC is currently blocked, the report recommends that the Government should now state that there is a prima facie evidence that crimes such as sexual violence, torture and genocide have been committed, and those responsible must be brought to justice.

3) Perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict should know they will not evade prosecution. The UK should increase its voluntary contributions to the work of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to help it investigate and prosecute crimes of conflict- related sexual violence.

4) The UK should resist any peace settlement in Syria that proposes amnesties for perpetrators of sexual violence during the conflict. The Government should work to ensure peace process in Syria involving the meaningful participation of women and develop a strategy to support victims of sexual violence.

5) The government should push for the ‘naming and shaming’ of states who fail to investigate or carry out appropriate disciplinary procedures against their peacekeeping troops accused of these crimes.

6) The UK should work with other countries to establish a regular global conference on preventing sexual violence in conflict, to be hosted by a different state every four years. The Government should also ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (the ‘Istanbul Convention’) at the earliest opportunity.

Lord Loomba will also be collaborating with AMAR, a charity Presided by Baroness Nicholson, providing medical assistance thorough various initiatives in the war-torn areas in Iran and Iraq.

Baroness Nicholson (centre) with the AMAR medical team

The Loomba Foundation, has been working closely towards the Empowerment of widows and providing Educational support to their children across 12 countries in South Asia, Africa and South America for the past twenty years.