(New York, 3 November 2020)

I am encouraged by the positive steps taken by the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) in bringing to justice perpetrators of sexual violence before the District Courts Martial in the town of Yei, in Central Equatoria state, South Sudan. These courts martial resulted in the conviction of 13 members of the SSPDF for rape under Article 247 of the Penal Code Act (2008), as part of a process that led to the sentencing of 26 soldiers to various terms of imprisonment for offences committed in 2019 and 2020.

I also welcome the recent convictions in civilian courts in Kuajok and Wau of two SSPDF soldiers for gang rape and rape respectively of underage girls, one South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) officer for rape, and three members of the pro-Riek Machar Sudan People’s Liberation Army in opposition (SPLA-IO) for rape in Yambio and Wau court. These verdicts not only send a message to perpetrators about the consequences of their actions, but also reaffirms the government commitment to a zero-tolerance policy for conflict-related sexual violence.

I commend the brave survivors who came forward to testify and seek justice and also acknowledge the critical role civil society has played in advocating for and supporting them. I also remind the authorities that as part of transitional justice and peacebuilding processes, survivors have the right to a remedy, reparations and compensation.

My Office will continue to work with United Nations partners on the ground to ensure the Government of South Sudan meets its commitments under the Joint Communiqué signed on 11 October 2014 between the Republic of South Sudan and the United Nations on addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, as well as the subsequent SSPDF and SSNPS Action Plan, to strengthen the prevention of sexual violence and ensure that the prosecution of these grave crimes takes place in a transparent and survivor-sensitive manner.

 

For media inquiries, please contact:

Ms. Geraldine Boezio Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, New York

Tel: + 1 917 367-2792  Email: geraldine.boezio@un.org