On 9th January 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on the treatment of British victims of alleged sexual violence in foreign countries, following the recent case in Cyprus. The bishop then asked a follow-up question:
Oral Question Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of British victims of alleged sexual violence in foreign countries, following the recent case in Cyprus.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon): My Lords, we take any report of rape or sexual assault seriously. Our staff explain local policing and legal procedures. We can attend the police station with and support victims and ensure that they can access medical care. We also work with specialist support organisations, such as our funded partners, and fund bespoke projects to improve the treatment of victims by authorities in other countries.
Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. The media reports of this young British woman convicted in Cyprus have caused alarm in many circles. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to ensure that this does not deter victims in this country coming forward to the police when they need to report something? Secondly, and more specifically on the case of the Cyprus woman, we were in touch with her lawyers yesterday. They are positive about the support given by Her Majesty’s Government but there is the question of what support she will now be given for her appeal to clear her name. What can Her Majesty’s Government do to help her with that?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, on the second question asked by the right reverend Prelate, obviously I cannot go into specific details because it is ongoing. He raised the important issue of ensuring that, because of the experience we have seen from this case, no victim of sexual violence—be it at home or abroad—feels that there is a barrier or, indeed, feels reluctant to come forward. It is clear that if someone is sexually assaulted or raped, they should come forward. Abroad, we will offer full support, as we have done in this case; here in the United Kingdom, I know that my colleagues at the Home Office will take the issue very seriously. If you have been assaulted, come forward and report it.