European & International News

News from the August 12 Campaign: UK Queen’s Counsel writes to President Obama

[Brussels, 01 February 2012] On 01 February 2012, 40 members of Queen’s Counsel (U.K.) took part in the August 12 Campaign and wrote to President Obama, asking him to lift the abortion restrictions currently imposed on all humanitarian aid for girls and women raped in armed conflict. Many international and European organisations have sent letters to President Obama in the context of the campaign, including the EWL, urging him to take action on this discriminatory treatment of women rape victims.

Queen’s Counsel (QC) consists of lawyers appointed to be one of her majesty’s counsel learned in the law. In particular the letter is signed by 46 barristers of QC and the initiator of the letter, Amanda Pinto QC, Director International Affairs of the CBA and Vice Chairman of the International Committee of the Bar Council.

In their letter to the US President, they say that the "no abortion" clause violates the rights of girls and women impregnated by rape in armed conflict who are "wounded and sick" persons entitled to non-discriminatory and comprehensive medical care under international humanitarian law.

Despite clear mandates under the Geneva Conventions against torture and international law, "girls and women impregnated by rape in armed conflict are routinely denied abortions in humanitarian medical settings, largely due to the global effect of the US prohibitions," QC says. "They are the only category of war victims who are systematically denied their right to complete medical care". QC goes on: "The failure to provide abortions to rape victims, who are also considered torture victims, can itself constitute torture and/or cruel and inhumane treatment."

Finally, QC quotes the UK Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict stating that “women must be treated with special respect and no less favorably than men.”

To read the letter, please click here. To get more information about the August 12 Campaign, visit the Global Justice Center website.

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