Rape as a Weapon of War in Ukraine

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:32 am on 31st March 2022.

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Photo of Alyn Smith Alyn Smith Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 10:32 am, 31st March 2022

I warmly congratulate Anthony Mangnall on securing this urgent question on a very difficult but very important subject. It is vital that we take due note of what is going on in Ukraine. We can all agree that rape as a weapon of war is beyond despicable. I will focus my remarks on urging the Government to take action on only three points, because much has been said that I agree with.

SNP Members have called for a specific atrocity prevention strategy. Work is under way across the FCDO on these issues, but we think that bringing that into a coherent atrocity prevention strategy would be helpful in not only holding the Government to account on what is being done, but urging more action on that.

On accountability, I agree with the Government’s approach of supporting the ICC, rather than creating new structures. That is proportionate and the best way to do it. I was glad to hear about the funding, but as we have seen from Syria, we can have all the evidence that we like, but if there is not the political will to carry it through, we will not see the necessary accountability on the ground and the fear of justice to end the culture of impunity that we are hearing reports of from Ukraine. I urge the Government to do more on that and to publish as one document the efforts that are being made to help accountability mechanisms in Ukraine, because that would again help the coherence and strategy to be clear to us all.

I echo the points about people trafficking and safeguarding, on which I know the Minister has been very active. However, perhaps we can have a specific statement on the risk of trafficking of vulnerable refugees and what the UK and other partners have done to help and assist. I am aware that the German police have been doing very useful work on that, but, sadly, a lot more work needs to be done.