A key strand of Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) has been the establishment of a UK Team of Experts who have been deployed to conflict areas to help support local responses to conflict-related sexual violence.
The team draws on the skills of doctors, lawyers, police, psychologists, forensic specialists and experts in the care and protection of survivors and witnesses. It significantly strengthens the UK’s specialist capabilities in tackling these issues.
The team is also available to support UN and other international organisations, and to provide training and mentoring to national authorities to help them develop the right laws and capabilities, as well as to support grassroots organisations, local peace-builders and human rights activists. Each deployment takes account of the specific context, and ensures that the UK makes a positive contribution to existing international and national efforts.
During 2013, experts were deployed to the Syrian borders with Physicians for Human Rights, an international NGO that uses medicine and science to tackle severe human rights violations against individuals; to Bosnia and Herzegovina to support the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s training of the judiciary to help combat impunity for wartime sexual violence crimes, and deliver justice to survivors; to Libya to assess how the UK can provide further assistance in terms of justice and support for survivors of sexual violence; to Mali to strengthen the capacity of the Malian armed forces to protect civilians from human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence; to Kosovo to train local participants on specific therapeutic issues such as sexual violence disclosure, rehabilitation needs for survivors and documentation of cases; and to the DRC, also with Physicians for Human Rights, to build the local capacity of Congolese health, legal and law enforcement professionals to investigate sexual violence crimes through documentation, collection, and preservation of forensic evidence.