|Statement on women & Peace & Security|
|Tuesday, 06 October 2009 08:48|
by Ambassador Palitha Kohona
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
Security Council Debate on Women & Peace & Security
5th October 2009
Members of the Council,
My Delegation appreciates the convening of this Open Debate which provides an opportunity for us to focus our attention on the protection of the rights of women and girls particularly in situations of armed conflict and their aftermath. I take this opportunity to congratulate you on the assumption of the Presidency. Resolution 1325 (2000) has promoted greater awareness across the United Nations system and the international community about those most vulnerable to sexual and physical harm as well as social, economic and political disempowerment in conflict and post conflict situations. The international community must work together to effectively put an end to these most vicious and inhumane forms of gender based exploitation and we welcome the Secretary General’s recommendations.
The empowerment of women is one of the most effective mechanisms for their protection. My country, Sri Lanka, ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) twenty eight years ago and has taken proactive steps to fully implement its provisions through national legislation. The Constitution itself protects women’s rights. We have also adopted a Women’s Charter which embodies the principles of CEDAW and provides for women’s participation in peace building through community based programmes. Sri Lanka has also established a Ministry of Women’s’ Affairs which spearheads national programmes for the advancement of women and the protection of their rights. Our Penal Code lists rape as a serious offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding 20 years and provides for the offender to pay compensation to the victim consistent with a determination of a Court of law.
We also note with appreciation the Report of the Secretary-General to this Council in pursuance of Resolution 1820 (2008) and note with concern the continued use of sexual violence against civilians, widely and systematically, particularly women and girls in armed conflicts and their aftermath. Sri Lanka was embroiled in an armed conflict against a brutal terrorist group for 27 years. This conflict ended in May this year with the defeat of this terrorist group. Mr. President, our security forces through out their campaign to defeat these terrorists maintained the highest discipline and we can proudly report that we are not among the countries that the Secretary-General’s Report lists where grave sexual offences are reported to have been committed by the security forces against civilians caught in armed conflict and its aftermath. In fact, no allegations of rape have been made against our security forces as they successfully advanced against these terrorists. It is noteworthy also that none of the mandate holders of the UN have found any evidence of such offences having been committed by our armed forces during this campaign. One of the factors that may have contributed to this record is the training provided with the assistance of the ICRC and the prompt action taken wherever allegations were made. I would like to cite for the benefit of this Council the case of Krishanti Kumaraswamy, a 16 year old school girl who was raped and murdered by 6 soldiers on 7th August 1996. Our Government launched an investigation into the case. The 6 soldiers involved were arrested and prosecuted and given the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. I am citing this incident, Mr. President, to illustrate the fact that strong and definitive action against those responsible for committing acts of sexual violence serves as a deterrent. In this context, it is deeply regretted that reference has been made to Sri Lanka, including it among countries where rape is alleged to have been used as a tactic of war. In fact, not even the terrorist LTTE, despite its tendency to exaggerate incidents for propaganda purposes, had made such an allegation against the security forces of Sri Lanka as they advanced to eliminate them.
We welcome the Secretary-General’s recommendation to give equal attention to sexual violence in all situations of concern where sexual violence is perpetrated against civilians and that the United Nations will remain engaged to take on a greater global advocacy role on the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post conflict situations. We also strongly support the Secretary General’s re commendation to ensure an increase in women’s participation in post conflict governance and reconstruction. The commemoration of the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325 next year with a high level ministerial meeting is also welcomed by my delegation.
Thank you Mr. President