Case study: First deployment of a UK team of experts to the Syrian border
As the conflict in Syria escalated during 2012, Human Rights Watch and other organisations increasingly reported a growing number of human rights violations and abuses, including the use of sexual violence against women, men and children. Experience from other conflicts indicates that without immediate attention to documenting and recording evidence of these abhorrent crimes there would be a reduced likelihood of prosecuting the perpetrators in the future. In late 2012, two former police officers from the UK with extensive experience of investigating sexual violence crimes specifically in conflict travelled to the Syrian border to provide training on the collection, handling, documentation and storage of evidence.
The UK experts worked closely with other specialists in sexual violence issues to provide training through an established programme with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). With additional PSVI support (finances and UK expertise) the training programme was adapted and extended so that it covered the collection of evidence for torture and also included specialist training on evidence collection and support for survivors of sexual violence. The training was provided to 21 Syrian medical professionals, who work both in the border areas and in Syria, in field hospitals, rehabilitation centres and clinics. Every day they treat over 200 patients injured as a result of the Syrian conflict.
We will extend training programmes in 2013 through the deployments of UK experts to cover other Syrian border areas with a view to providing increased capacity to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence crimes.
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