On June 19, 2023, International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the UK announced sanctions against four perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict zones under The Syria (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, both of which subject the designees to asset freezes and travel bans. The UK sanctioned Desire Londroma Ndjukpa and William Yakutumba, two militia leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for allegedly commanding military groups to engage in acts of sexual violence in violation of international humanitarian laws. The UK also designated Syrian Army Chief Ali Mahmoud Abbas and Syrian Minister of Defense Abdel Karim Mahmoud Ibrahim for allegedly commanding military forces to engage in the systematic rape of women and girls and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence against civilians.
The UK government reports that sexual violence in conflict zones affects an estimated 20-30 percent of women and girls. The sanctions were announced by Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, in order to send a clear message that the UK stands in solidarity with survivors and condemns these illegal acts.