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UK: Government accused of 'hypocrisy' in hosting survivors of sexual violence summit

© ©Amnesty International / Olga Stefatou

Government to host global conference on preventing sexual violence in conflict yet is failing survivors in UK

‘The UK must get its own house in order before it can credibly lead an international summit on the issue’ – Chiara Capraro

The UK Government must address its own failings over supporting survivors of sexual violence in conflict during a major summit it is due to host this week, Amnesty International said today.

The UK will host the International Ministerial Conference on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict in London on 28-29 November to mark ten years since the initiative was launched.

Amnesty is concerned that despite claiming to be a global leader on preventing sexual violence in conflict (PSVI), the Government is neglecting the rights of survivors at home.

Most women seeking refuge in the UK have been victims of violence, including rape, and yet the asylum system subjects them to further traumatisation, detention and threats of deportation. The UK also fails to provide safe, official routes for refugee women and girls to seek asylum in the UK, and has significantly restricted the opportunity for thousands of women and girls to find safety in the UK under provisions for reunion with refugee partners or parents.

Additionally, the Government’s proposed Northern Ireland Troubles Bill seeks to prohibit criminal investigations - including of sexual offences - which will lead to a de facto amnesty for sexual offences and other grave human rights violations, prioritising perpetrators over victims.

Amnesty said that these issues mean the UK is in breach of the “strategic objectives on conflict-related sexual violence” that the conference aims to promote, including “concentrating on justice for all survivors and holding perpetrators to account”, and “supporting survivors”. 

Chiara Capraro, Amnesty International UK's Women’s Rights Programme Director, said:

“The hypocrisy of the Government’s claim to be a global leader in preventing sexual violence in conflict is extremely stark when right here in the UK survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are subject to cruel and inhumane treatment. 

“Survivors of wartime rape who are seeking a safe place to live in the UK have been re-traumatised by the UK’s brutal asylum processes and threatened with deportation to Rwanda.

“The Government is also failing victims of sexual violence during the Northern Ireland conflict, with the worrying Northern Ireland Troubles Bill proposing to close criminal investigations of perpetrators. 

“The UK must get its own house in order before it can credibly lead an international summit on this issue. If the Government really cares about the victims of sexual violence, it will start treating them fairly in the UK.”

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