South Sudan’s leadership pledges to address the massive sexual violence that the state military and the rebels committed during the civil war. Vice President Riek Machar has committed to launching an awareness raising campaign on sexual violence among the South Sudanese military.
The pledge follows the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict call for a thorough investigation in cases of sexual violence in South Sudan earlier this month. Zainab Bangura visited the survivors of sexual violence in Bentiu, South Sudan during her visit. She said it was one of the worst example of human rights abuse she has ever encountered in her life. Bangura says that those responsible for the crimes must be held accountable.
The UN special representative declared that survivors must be a key focus in the country’s current reconciliation process and impunity for perpetrators must end. “Successful implementation of the Peace Agreement will require that sexual violence crimes are monitored, tracked and reported, and are addressed in all transitional justice processes” she said. Bangura reported a lack of services for survivors of sexual violence and a lack of accountability mechanism as the main challenges toward the survivors’ healing.
After over two years of brutal civil war, the conflicting parties – the current president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar – signed a peace agreement in August 2015. Eight months later, on April 26th Machar swore in as vice president once again. As part of the peace agreement a transitional unity government was formed and a reconciliation process recently put in place.
South Sudan pledges to combat sexual violence by its forces, Africa News, 10 May 2016.
Sexual violence in conflict crimes “so bad” in South Sudan, United Nations Radio, 10 May 2016.
South Sudan’s Machar sworn in as VP, president calls for reconciliation, Reuters, 26 April 2016.
Testimony of John Prendergast – South Sudan’s Prospects for Peace and Security, Enough Project, 17 April 2016.