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* Presence of military does not contribute to insecurity of women and girls in former conflict zone, Sri Lanka says
Sat, Apr 26, 2014, 09:23 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 26, New York: Sri Lanka rejected the inference made by certain organizations and reports that the presence of military contributed to the insecurity of women and girls in the former conflict-affected areas.

Speaking at the United Nations Security Council debate on Conflict-Related sexual Violence Friday (April 25), the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Ambassador Shavendra Silva said that certain organizations are involved in propagating false reports of sexual violence against the Sri Lankan military.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his annual report on the issue submitted to the UN Security Council Thursday noted continued vulnerability of women and children in areas formerly affected by conflict, partly due to the continued militarization in those areas.

The UN Chief citing the UN resolution A/HRC/25/33 said during 2013, women and girls, especially in female-headed households, continued to be vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse, including at the hands of military personnel.

Giving details the envoy explained that during the conflict period from January 2007 to May 2009, seven Security Forces personnel had been reported as having been involved in five incidents of sexual violence in the Northern Province and in the post-conflict period up until May 2012, 10 Security Forces personnel had been reported as having been involved in six incidents.

The involvement of those personnel as a percentage of the total population accused stood at 5.6 percent in the conflict period and 3.3 percent in the post-conflict period.

The Secretary General however has noted in his report that the Sri Lankan government has reported that the military has taken strict action in such cases.

In a majority of the cases, the perpetrators had been close relatives or neighbors of the victims, Ambassador Silva noted.

He explained that accusations, often with disturbing details have been made for example, in a recent report by human rights lawyer Yasmin Sooka, without providing sufficient details such as a time and place and the identification of victims, to enable investigations and prosecutions.

He said the accusations are then repeated in other publications of different organizations, thereby contributing to forming an opinion which is propagated without evidence.

According to Ambassador Silva, none of these allegations have been substantiated by verifiable data in any of these documents.

"Significantly, no credible evidence has been directly brought to the attention of Government authorities by any of these parties. The Government has not been provided the evidence which is claimed to be in the possession of the authors of these reports in order to investigate and respond," he added.

Therefore, he rejected the inferences made by certain organizations and reports that the presence of military contributed to the insecurity of women and girls in the former conflict-affected areas.

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