Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence on International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict


June 19, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, today issued the following statement:

“Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the persistent and widespread use of sexual violence in conflict situations, including as a tactic of war. Such behaviour is a flagrant and unacceptable violation of international humanitarian law and human rights.

“As a country that believes strongly in the defence of human rights everywhere in the world, Canada is supporting efforts to investigate sexual violence so those who engage in such conduct, such as the terrorist group Daesh, are brought to justice.

“We have committed to welcoming some 1,200 survivors of Daesh atrocities to Canada this year, including Yazidi women and children and their families. While we know the physical and emotional trauma of abuse can take a lifetime to heal, we hope that living in an open, tolerant and inclusive country like Canada will give these refugees hope for a better future.

“Recognizing that conflict, natural disasters and humanitarian crises affect everyone differently, the Canadian Armed Forces is taking steps to account for the security needs of populations at risk, including addressing the risks of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, by integrating gender perspectives into its plans and operations.

“Today, we also underscore that Canada condemns all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. Through its recently announced Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada will help prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict zones and enforce its zero-tolerance policy for abuses perpetrated by staff and peacekeepers.

“On International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, Canada wants all survivors of such violence to know that any shame associated with the despicable mistreatment they have suffered rests not with them but squarely with their abusers. We pledge our full support to those whose rights have been violated and are focused on putting gender and women back at the center of peacebuilding efforts.”

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