HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL CONDEMNS WIDESPREAD SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN SOUTH SUDAN

JUBA, The Representative of the UN Commission for Human Rights in South Sudan, Eugene Nindorera, on Friday condemned continued use of sexual violence as a weapon of war against civilians in the conflict-torn East African nation.

Nindorera, who also heads the Human Rights Division (HRD) of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said cases of sexual violence against women and girls continue unabated across South Sudan despite the warring parties making commitments to end the practice.

Nindorera said the UN has documented instances of rape and gang-rape by government forces, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar as a tactic to humiliate, dominate and instill fear onto the civilian population.

“The practices of using sexual violence as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, disperse or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group unfortunately remains widespread with little indications of perpetrators being held accountable for their actions-regardless of whether they belong to government or opposition forces,” he told a public forum to commemorate the International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict in Juba.

Observed on June 19, the day is meant to commemorate the UN Security Council resolution 1820 (2008), which condemned sexual violence in war zones.

South Sudan celebrated it earlier due to other programs scheduled for that day, the UN said.

Nindorera noted that the HRD has recently documented the rape and gang-rape of more than 100 women and girls, including pregnant and lactating mothers, allegedly carried out by SPLA soldiers in the northern regions of Leer and Mayendit following renewed armed clashes.

The official added that UN human rights investigators found one case of a six-year-old girl who was gang raped by eight SPLA soldiers, even after she lost consciousness and in some cases, those who resisted rape was immediately shot dead.

Lul Ruai Koang, military spokesman of the SPLA, denied the latest UN allegations, adding that the army did not receive any complaint of sexual abuse in Leer or Mayendit.

“This is what they (UNMISS) have been saying all time without producing evidence. Let them give us information about the reported sexual violence. Let them help us in the process of identification of suspects because without any culprit being identified, it will be very difficult for us to bring that person to book,” said Koang.

South Sudan has been embroiled in civil war since December 2013 and the conflict now in its fifth year has taken a devastating toll on the people, creating one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April 2016, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July the same year.

Source: Nam News Network