Friday, 29 June 2018 13:43

Statement of the SRSG-SVC for the UN High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States

Madam Chair, distinguished Delegates,

The Security Council has recognized, through its resolutions 2242 and 2331, that sexual violence is being used as a tactic of terror.

Terrorist groups, including ISIL, Boko Haram, Al Shabab and Ansar Eddine, are using sexual violence to achieve core strategic objectives such as incentivizing recruitment through the promise of wives and sex slaves, or funding their activities through sex trafficking, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution and the extortion of ransoms from desperate families. They also use sexual violence to entrench ideology based on suppressing women’s rights and controlling their sexuality and reproduction. In fact, in this year annual Report on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, the Secretary General has listed seven groups, whose names also appear in ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.

As we gather today to discuss how to strengthen international cooperation, I would like to draw your attention to the plight suffered by victims of terrorism and particularly those who survived sexual violence. Since I took Office a year ago, I have been meeting with many survivors of sexual violence who are also victims of terrorists, such as Yazidi women and girls who were enslaved by ISIL in Iraq and Syria, or those who escaped from Boko Haram in Nigeria. They require urgent medical attention and long-term psychosocial support. They are also too often unable to reunite with their family and to return to their community due to the stigma associated with the crime of sexual violence and sometimes the double stigma of being perceived as affiliates of terrorists. Some were also compelled to abandon their children born of rape.

Madam chair, distinguished delegates, all victims I met demand justice.

I hence call on Member States to ensure that offenses of sexual violence are prosecuted explicitly, including in the context of terrorism trials so that perpetrators are punished for the full extent of their crimes and victims are also recognized. International cooperation, especially between military, intelligence and justice sectors is crucial to accelerate such prosecution. Declassification of information and evidence that can be used in court to prosecute conflict-related sexual violence as a war crime, a crime against humanity, or as a constituent act of genocide is also critical.

Finally, let me reiterate that women and children whose parent or husband are believed to be terrorist must be treated fairly and not based on the actual or perceived crimes of their family members. Member States should also take measures to prevent children born of rape to become stateless and ensure birth registration of children born to their nationals.

I am looking forward to your continuous discussion on how international judicial cooperation can be strengthened in order to bring justice to countless victims of terrorism who also survived the heinous and horrific crime of sexual violence.

New York, 28 June 2018

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  • Agency: UNAMI

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