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UN welcomes conviction of South Sudanese rapist soldiers

South Sudanese soldiers listen to the verdict being delivered at their trial in a military courtroom in Juba, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (AP Photo)
September 7 2018 (JUBA) - Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, Friday welcomed the decision of a South Sudanese military court to sentence ten soldiers for murder, rape and other crimes committed at the Terrain hotel compound in Juba in 2016.

The attack took place in the context of military operations by the government forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). During the fighting, SPLA forces attacked the compound in Juba housing humanitarian workers and other employees of international organisations. A journalist was murdered, and five international aid workers were raped.

The court sentenced 10 soldiers to jail terms ranging from seven years to life. Also, it ordered South Sudan’s government to pay each rape survivor $4,000 (£3,000) in compensation.

“Victims and survivors of this horrific attack deserved justice. While this will not diminish the trauma, pain and suffering they endured, it is important that the perpetrators have finally been held publicly accountable,” said Special Representative Patten.

She further added that this trial sets an important precedent for the prosecution of rape as a war crime in South Sudan.

A United Nations report on the July 2016 violence in Juba accused UNMISS peacekeepers of failing to respond to pleas for help.

Statements from the victims of sexual violence, attesting to their brutal ordeal of being raped, gang-raped, beaten and robbed at gunpoint by government soldiers, were heard in closed session following the Court’s acceptance of the Prosecution’s application to allow victims to give testimony via video conference in order to protect their identities.

“While I commend these convictions, I also urge the Government to prosecute all perpetrators of sexual violence crimes and ensure that all victims receive justice, services and reparations”, concluded the international official.