The genocide in Srebrenica was one of the worst crimes in Europe’s modern history. And yet the atrocities of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina were not confined to acts of genocide. Many thousands of girls, women, boys and men suffered sexual violence at the hands of combatants who used rape as a weapon of war.
When we commemorate those who died, we should also remember those who lived but were compelled to endure the most terrible sexual abuses.
The aim of the perpetrators was to rob their victims of dignity while traumatising and dividing communities. Sexual violence is a method of control and of humiliation.
The UK does its utmost to prevent sexual violence in conflict. We offer psychosocial support, education and training to survivors and victims. We try to reconcile families and communities. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are working to bring perpetrators to account. We are supporting civil society, human rights defenders, lawyers and judges to ensure that justice is done. We also work through the United Nations to build capacity in local institutions to improve legislation.
Srebrenica was an act of genocide of a scale unseen in Europe since 1945.
It was a tragedy that should never have been allowed to occur. Today, Britain stands with those in Bosnia and Herzegovina who want to a build a peaceful, united and prosperous future.