UK Foreign Secretary Meets Bosnian Rape Victims

During its presidency of the G8 summit next year, Great Britain will fight to stop wartime sexual violence, said William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, during his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina.At a meeting with representatives of victims associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday, Hague gave a presentation on the United Kingdom’s initiative to create a large team of experts that would travel to war zones to gather evidence about mass sexual violence.

The team would include police officers, lawyers, psychologists and forensic experts.

The British Foreign secretary promised Bosnian victims of sexual violence that during his country’s presidency of the G8 summit in 2013, he would try to sign new international agreements to stop rape as a weapon of war.

“I learned a lot from the people in this meeting and I have explained the action the UK is going to be taking over the next year. Our new initiative to help prevent sexual violence in conflict involves the creation of our team of 65 experts that can be deployed anywhere in the world to make sure those crimes are recorded and prosecuted in the future,” Hague said after the meeting.

He added that Great Britain would also give additional funds to the United Nations to support the work of the UN Special representative on these issues.

“It is time for people around the world that have experienced these crimes, to say it is time to address this issue and shatter the idea that rape can be committed in war on a massive scale and with nothing being done about it afterwards,” concluded Hague.

Enisa Salcinovic and Bakira Hasecic, two Bosnian rape victims that attended the meeting, were extremely happy that Hague had decided to meet them during his visit and said that his initiative is one that “brings hope”.

“Mr. Hague gave me optimism. I believe such an international program might finally help us solve our problems. We, the victims, have many problems. We have social and economic problems. There are no reparation mechanisms for victims of international crimes or means of tackling the impunity of the perpetrators”, said Salcinovic.

Hague first presented his initiative in May this year at the London premier of the Hollywood movie “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, which deals with wartime rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Explaining the need for such a team, Hague said that even though up to 50,000 women had been raped in Bosnia during the early 1990’s conflict, only about 30 direct perpetrators had been convicted by the local courts and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

During his one-day visit to Sarajevo, Hague also met Bosnian politicians, the High representative of the international community, and visited the offices of the International commission on missing persons, ICMP.

“Solving cases of missing persons and other heinous crimes are key to rebuilding this state and reinstating the rule of law, as well as for truly dealing with the past,” said Hague.

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