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APPG on Women, Peace and Security: Leslie Thomas’ ‘The Prosecutors’

On Wednesday 12th January 2022, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APPG-WPS) hosted a special film event showing Leslie Thomas’ ‘The Prosecutors’ followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. The event was chaired by Flick Drummond MP and Baroness Fiona Hodgson, Co-chairs of the APPG-WPS.

The film-maker, Leslie Thomas, introduced the 34 minute version of the film, ‘The Prosecutors’, which is a hard-hitting documentary telling the story of three dedicated lawyers who fight to ensure that rape in war is not met with impunity. Filmed over five years on three continents, it takes viewers from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Bosnia and Herzegovina to Colombia on the long journey towards justice.

This was followed by three speakers.  The first was Baroness Armika Helic who was instrumental in the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative launched by William Hague and Angelina Jolie. Baroness Helic discussed her view of the film and how she believes the UK has a chance to take the lead and push to tackle sexual violence and would like to see a new investigatory body set up to help ensure more prosecutions.

The second speaker was Patricia Sellars, a renowned International Criminal Lawyer. Patricia spoke about how the prosecutors actually go out about their work. She discussed the film from a lawyers’ perspective stating how the film showed how sexual violence is integrated into coercion and control in the military.

The third and final speaker was Nadine Tunasi who is an FCDO Survivor Champion. She spoke movingly about her experience as a survivor. Nadine also discussed how sexual violence is almost seen as a secret crime, yet it has such a huge impact on women’s lives. She also discussed sexual violence in the context of war and how it is used as a weapon.

A discussion then followed, much of which focused on Baroness Helic’s point on introducing an international body for sexual violence and what would that look like. The discussion also centred on what the UK Government can do to help all these victims of sexual violence across the globe, building on the work already done. Participants agreed there needs to be more preventative measures through a body such as the UN and how if not now, then when will it be an appropriate time to implement a measure like this. As well as this, it was also discussed whether survivors have a place of safety within or outside their country and what would be most beneficial, perhaps making it easier for survivors to relocate.

The APPG-WPS thanks Leslie Thomas for allowing us to show her film and hold this event to raise awareness of sexual violence across the globe and how positive action can be taken to tackle it.

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