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Jolie, Britain's Hague unveil protocol to tackle rape in war zones

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-11

US actress Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague joined forces Wednesday to introduce an international protocol that Jolie said she hopes will "really, truly end impunity" for those who use sexual violence as a weapon of war.

"Perpetrators have to know that, even during conflict, evidence is being collected and it will be used against them," Jolie said.

"They have to know that when peace agreements are made there will be no amnesty for rape."

Introduced on the second day of a four-day conference on ending sexual assault in conflict zones, the document offers guidance on recognising sexual violence as an international crime, how to investigate it, protecting both victims and witnesses, and how to safeguard interviews and evidence for later investigations.

Jolie said that up to 50,000 women were the victims of sexual violence during the war in Bosnia but that "only just over 60 people" have ever been successfully prosecuted for those crimes.

"The number of convictions for warzone sexual rape is pitifully small," she said.

The centrepiece of her and Hague's campaign is a call for an end to the culture of impunity that surrounds such assaults, which are often seen as an inevitable part of conflict.

Jolie, whose 2011 film "In the Land of Blood and Honey" focuses on rape victims during the Bosnian war, said that when she has met survivors, they all ask for one thing: "Justice."

Warzone rape, she said, is a "crime against humanity" and the rights of survivors – to be accepted by society, to be supported, and to see their attackers held accountable before the law – are denied to millions of people around the world.

"We all know how hard it is to secure convictions for rape even in stable democratic countries, so we have to work even harder to make justice possible in fragile countries," Jolie said.

"And that is the purpose of this protocol. It is an essential document," she said.

Hague said he hoped it would play a "vital role in shattering the culture of impunity" for sexual violence in conflict.

"Untold thousands of rapes have gone entirely unpunished" in countries like Sudan and during the conflict in Syria, including the sexual violation of men, Hague said.

"We are determined to ensure that prosecutors, police forces, peacekeepers and civil society on the front line in this struggle know how best to document and investigate sexual violence in conflict so that the perpetrators can be successfully prosecuted," he added.

Hague said that Britain would work to see the protocal implemented and it would be translated into multiple languages and distributed worldwide.

On the sidelines of the conference on Thursday, Hague will chair a meeting on violence in northern Nigeria in the wake of the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram Islamist militants.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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Date created : 2014-06-11

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