from RAJI BASHIR in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM, (CAJ News) – THE United Nations (UN) has welcomed the convictions of 21 individuals, including soldiers, for serious crimes committed in South Sudan from last year.
A General Court Martial convicted the suspects for murder, rape, and the rape of a minor in Yei, Central Equatoria State.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) welcomed the recent steps taken by the government to pursue accountability and justice for survivors of sexual violence.
Five members of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) accused of rape were convicted, dismissed and stripped of their rank, sentenced to up to ten years of imprisonment, and required to pay compensation to survivors.
“We commend the authorities and the SSPDF for holding perpetrators accountable for the horrific crimes committed,” said Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan Nicholas Haysom.
UNMISS provided funding for survivors and witnesses to receive counselling before and after the trial, as well as interpretation and logistics assistance such as transportation.
Survivors were also assigned a dedicated support person during the proceedings. “We must ensure that survivors get the help they need, are treated with compassion and respect, and are not further traumatized,” Haysom added.
South Sudan, the world’s newest country, spilled into conflict in 2013, two years after independence.
Despite a peace deal, violence is sporadic.
Yei River County Commissioner, Aggrey Cyrus Kanyikwa, expressed gratitude for the expedited establishment of the General Court Martial.
“It proves that South Sudan can end impunity and provide justice; and that nobody is above the law,” Kanyikwa said.
– CAJ News