FCO unit to investigate war zone rape

The Foreign Office has launched an initiative aimed at tackling sexual violence in war zones across the world.

It is hoped the scheme, which is backed by actress Angelina Jolie, will mean more perpetrators of sexual violence can be pursued in international courts.

Speaking at the launch, Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was “shocked” to learn that only 30 people had been convicted for up to 50,000 rapes committed during the Bosnian war.

Under the scheme, UK experts will be trained to deploy at short notice to gather evidence in conflict-hit areas. The team of experts will include police, psychologists, doctors, lawyers and forensic experts.

The presence of the investigators on the ground will also act as a deterrent against rape, which is often used as a tactic of war.

Speaking before the screening of her new film, In the Land Of Blood and Honey – set in the 1992-95 Bosnian war – Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the United Nations’ High Commissioner on Refugees, said that in modern warfare, the problem of sexual violence had “grown tremendously”.

London’s female heads of mission welcomed the initiative, saying it would “shine a light” on the abuses suffered by women in war zones to bring offenders to justice.