Summary: Women and children are still being gang-raped in South Sudan, according to the UN Commission on Human Rights. Millions more South Sudanese are likely to be displaced or cross borders, causing chaos for neighbouring nations and aid organisations, says Yasmin Sooka, head of the commission. Women raped by armed troops are threatened with death if they disclose it. The police frequently lack the necessary tools to perform their duties. In Unity State and rural areas of Western Equatoria, “there is no formal court to deal with heinous crimes like murder and rape”.
According to the UN Commission on Human Rights, women and children are still being gang-raped in the world’s youngest country, and survivors have been described as “zombies, physically and emotionally lifeless.”
Enforce the law
Yasmin Sooka, the head of the commission, stated in a warning that the international community needed to keep an eye on the country’s peace deal and other reforms, such as those to the military forces and the constitution.
According to a deal the nation’s government struck four years ago, transitional judicial entities are also urgently needed, the Commission underlined.
Without these actions, millions more South Sudanese are likely to be displaced or cross borders, causing chaos for neighbouring nations and assistance organisations, “added Ms Sooka.
Elections in South Sudan have been postponed until the end of 2024 under the 2018 peace agreement.
Threats of death
A calm environment is necessary for a national election. Still, the rights committee noted that South Sudanese citizens “who have questioned the administration or exposed atrocities have received death threats, been arrested or tortured.”
The panel underlined that none of the three proposed transitional justice bodies—the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, the Hybrid Court, or the Compensation and Reparation Authority—that were agreed upon in 2018 had been established.
Women raped by armed troops while gathering firewood are threatened with death if they disclose it, according to the independent rights panel, which the Human Rights Council established in 2016.
The police frequently lack the necessary tools to perform their duties; in a recent statement, the Commission stated that “they cannot arrest a soldier who is better armed and protected.”
No justice served
The rights investigators stated that in Unity State and rural areas of Western Equatoria, “there is no formal court to deal with heinous crimes like murder and rape, just customary tribunals,” as another example of the lack of justice for survivors.
The Commission reported seeing “very young girls with newborns at military outposts” and hearing “several accounts of soldiers from government and opposition forces abducting women” while visiting Western Equatoria this month.
Inquiry Commissioner Andrew Clapham said, “Survivors in South Sudan, particularly those of repeated incidents of sexual violence, tell us repeatedly that criminal accountability is the only way to guarantee their safety and peace for the country. The Global Survivors Forum was held in New York over the weekend and was hosted by Nobel Peace Prize winners Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. Because of this, the Hybrid Court’s establishment cannot be negotiated.”
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network