UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, Condemns the Use of Rape and Other Forms of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Committed in Syria

Syria – Sexual Violence in Conflict

UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, Condemns the Use of Rape and Other Forms of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Committed in Syria
Press Release
[Editor’s text bolding]
(New York, 15 March 2018)
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, commended the work and efforts of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic for its findings documenting rape and other forms of sexual violence in Syria, which were contained in the Commission’s conference paper released today entitled “I Lost My Dignity”: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Commission of Inquiry finds that the Syrian Government and associated militias used rape and other forms of sexual violence as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Syria in order to cause maximum “terror and humiliation to the population” and “to target civilians broadly perceived as associated with the opposition.”

The Syrian government reportedly used sexual violence primarily against women and girls and in house-to-house searches, at checkpoints and in detention. The International Commission of Inquiry found that “women and girls who were raped often witnessed the killing of male relatives” and that in detention settings “male guards routinely subjected women and girls to intimate searches, the most invasive of which amount to rape.” The Commission of Inquiry also found a pattern of rape and others forms of sexual violence against men and boys in detention by the Syrian Government, including acts of genital mutilation.

Special Representative Patten stated that: “The annual reports of the United Nations Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence have consistently listed the Syrian government and associated militias of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’s findings provide yet further confirmation. The horrors it describes against Syrian women and girls, as well as men and boys, is yet another aspect of the tragedy that is the Syrian civil war.” Special Representative Patten stated further that the findings of the Commission of Inquiry demonstrate that these acts of conflict-related sexual violence are contrary to a series of Security Council resolutions and their acts constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report of the International Commission of Inquiry also details conflict-related sexual violence committed by armed groups, including terrorist groups such as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). Special Representative Patten stated that: “The Security Council has recognized in resolution 2331 (2016) that sexual violence can be used as a tactic of terrorism and this is apparent from the findings of the International Commission of Inquiry in Syria. Many of these terrorist groups’ victims were targeted because of their ethnicity or religion with an intent to destroy these populations.”

Special Representative Patten called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to immediately end the use of sexual violence, and for ongoing peace processes to address sexual violence as a matter of priority. She stated further that: “all survivors of sexual violence in Syria deserve justice, reparation and peace and all perpetrators must be held accountable.”