Bradford MP, David Ward has received a response from the Government which acknowledges that the Burmese Government must do more to implement their commitment to end sexual violence in conflict.
In a response to a Written Parliamentary Question to David Ward on whether the Burmese Government had taken steps to implement the declaration to end sexual violence which it signed in June 2014, the Foreign Office Minister Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP stated that:
“While there have been some developments, such as the conviction in a civilian court last year of a Burmese soldier for the rape of a minor, there is much more that can and should be done”.
The Minister continued to state that he and Lynne Featherstone MP, in her capacity as Champion for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, have raised this lack of progress with the Burmese Government and continue to encourage them to take concrete action, by strengthening legislation, reducing impunity for perpetrators, and improving access to justice for survivors.
In the Foreign Offices’ Annual Report on Human Rights in Burma, it states that sexual violence remains a concern and that the cultural reluctance to discuss the issue and lack of access to justice and access to active areas of conflict means that the full extent of sexual and gender-based violence in Burma is still unknown.
Commenting David Ward MP said:
“Whilst it’s important for the Foreign Office to acknowledge that the Burmese Government are not doing enough to end the horrendous cycle of sexual violence particularly against the Rohingya community in Burma, this condemnation is simply not strong enough or proven to be effective in anyway.
“We are providing important aid and support to the country and we need to be doing more to use this position to make sure the Burmese Government and the Army are not taking part in what appears to many, to be state sponsored violence against the Rohingya community.”
Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager for Burma Campaign UK added:
“None of the £300,000 funding that is provided by the FCO to combat sexual violence in Burma goes directly to women survivors of sexual violence by the Burmese Army, or to the women’s organisations who help them.”
“The Burmese government had not implemented a single part of the Declaration to end sexual violence, but Hugo Swire MP avoids giving a straight answer and admitting this.”
“The training courses which the British government provide to the Burmese Army last two weeks, a total of 60 hours, and just one and a half of those hours is spent on human rights.”