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UN hails conviction of 21 individuals for rape, murder in South Sudan

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Monday hailed the South Sudan government for convicting 21 individuals including soldiers for committing rape and murder in Yei between 2021 and 2022.

This came after the general court martial of the South Sudan army (SSPDF) that sat on June 1 till 27 in the Southern border town of Central Equatoria state sentenced five soldiers who committed rape to up to 10 years of imprisonment.

“We commend the authorities and the SSPDF for holding perpetrators accountable for the horrific crimes committed. The community played an essential role, as they demanded that these cases be investigated and adjudicated,” Nicholas Haysom, the head of UNMISS said in a statement issued in Juba.

The convicts were ordered by court to pay compensation to survivors of rape.

In addition, the five soldiers accused of rape were also dismissed and stripped of their rank.

Haysom revealed that 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 through the Yei River Women’s Association.

It noted that ssurvivors 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.

It disclosed that UNMISS and partners have been supporting processes for accountability and access to justice, including justice for children through a range of special and mobile courts.

UNMISS said that the Yei general court martial is part of the peacekeeping mission’s ongoing collaboration with the military justice directorate to strengthen accountability within the South Sudan army.

Aggrey Cyrus Kanyikwa, the Yei River County Commissioner, lauded the establishment of the general court martial which he called a declaration of an end to impunity and lawlessness.

“It proves that South Sudan can end impunity and provide justice and that nobody is above the law,” Kanyikwa said.

In October 2020, some 24 soldiers were sentenced in Yei to various jail terms over rape and looting.

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