By Okech Francis
Rape and other forms of sexual violence are still being used to fight wars in South Sudan, foreign diplomats have warned, urging the transitional government of national unity to ensure accountability for such vices.
Over the years of crisis, both the government and rebel forces were blamed for using violence against women as a way of frustrating the enemy.
“Not only is conflict-related sexual violence deeply harmful on a personal level, but it also fuels revenge cycles between communities, driving conflict and preventing peace,” the embassies of western countries in South Sudan said in a joint statement on June 18.
They include Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, and Japan, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA.
Phone calls to the army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang would not connect.
The embassies acknowledged “positive steps” taken by the government of South Sudan in establishing the court for gender-based violence in December 2020 and the mobile military courts but said “it is essential that perpetrators of sexual violence be held to account.”
“The successful prosecution of perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence through these mechanisms is an important step in ending impunity for these crimes,” they said.
“Preventing conflict-related sexual violence and ensuring justice and support for survivors is fundamental in building a peaceful, safe and secure nation that values the rights and dignity of all people of South Sudan.”