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Estonia is supporting victims of gender-based and sexual violence through the International Criminal Court

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supporting victims of gender-based and sexual violence through the Trust Fund for Victims set up by the International Criminal Court.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Estonia would like to contribute further to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, with special emphasis on women and children's rights. "Sexual violence occurring in conflict areas is the darkest scenario for women and girls," Paet said, adding that sexual violence is widely used in conflict situations to generate fear in people, weaken social ties and control areas.

Paet noted, that even if those who fall victim to sexual violence survive, their lives are deeply affected by this for a long time. "It is often also accompanied by decades and generations of lasting damage to the entire community," the Estonian Foreign Minister said.The conflicts of the past 10-15 years alone have resulted in more than several hundred thousand cases of sexual violence in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Balkan countries. The problem is acute today in more than ten countries affected by armed conflict.

Only the events of recent decades have led to the definition of sexual violence as a punishable offence in international law. The statute of the International Criminal Court defines systematic sexual violence as a crime against humanity and a war crime and it is clearly condemned by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820, which was also supported by Estonia.

The International Criminal Court or ICC, has set up a Trust Fund for Victims, established under the Rome Statute, which entered into force in 2002 and which lay the groundwork for the activities of the ICC. The fund provides assistance for people who have suffered due to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, of whom a large proportion are women and children. The Trust Fund provides them with both physical and psycho-social or material support, if necessary. The Trust Fund operates in African countries, where the criminal court is now conducting investigations. Today, more than 80 000 victims and their families have benefited from the fund. The Trust Fund's activities are financed primarily through voluntary donations.

The Foreign Ministry is allocating 30 000 euros to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims. Previously the Foreign Ministry has supported the activities of the Trust Fund for Victims with 35 000 euros.

PRESS DEPARTMENT 637 7654 533 66 159 press@mfa.ee www.vm.ee