August 25, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit has said he ordered an investigation of top generals in the army (SPLA) over their role in alleged human rights violations in strife-torn hit Jonglei state.
South Sudan has come under criticism from the US government and human rights organisations in recent months over rights abuses and the failure to protect civilians in Jonglei state, where the UN says as many as 100,000 people have been cut off from access to basic humanitarian assistance.
Kiir said on Sunday his government will investigate and punish soldiers found to have been responsible for the violations.
“Some of the generals are already under investigation. They will pay for whatever crimes they have committed”, said Kiir, who was speaking on Sunday at the swearing in ceremony of new vice-president James Wani Igga.
His predecessor, Riek Machar, was removed last month after Kiir dissolved his entire cabinet in a major reshuffle.
Kiir confirmed that one of the army officers under investigation is Brig-Gen. James Otong, with soldiers under his command reportedly involved in the rape of women in Pibor country.
The president warned that he will not tolerate soldiers violating rights of civilians and pointed out that the army’s role is to protect the country.
“The mandate of the army is very clear. They are supposed to protect the country and the citizens against foreign aggression and territorial integrity”, said Kiir.
Jonglei state has been the centre of inter-tribal violence and fighting between the SPLA and David Yau Yau-led rebel fighters.
In July, the US called on the South Sudanese government to protect civilians and to hold accountable those suspected to have been involved in human rights violations in Jonglei.