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UN Security Council urges South Sudan to punish perpetrators of sexual attacks

Displaced civilians from five villages around Kuda Payam, 72 klm west of Juba, after killing of 14 people following attacks by pastoral communities, in their area on 15 August 2018 (UNMISS Photo)
December 8, 2018 (JUBA) - The UN Security Council called on the South Sudanese government to condemn and hold accountable the responsible for recent sexual attacks in the country and expressed willingness to impose targeted sanctions.

From 22 to 29 November armed men in military and civilian clothing operating in Government-controlled areas throughout Rubkona County raped more than 150 women and girls.

However, local authorities denied the occurrence of the sexual violence and deployed more troops to prevent such assaults.

"The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous incidents of sexual and gender-based violence against women near Bentiu in northern South Sudan in recent weeks," read a statement from the UN Security Council released on Saturday.

The declaration made by the President of the Security Council on behalf of all 15 Members further ." called on the Government of South Sudan to condemn the attacks, to ensure that a full investigation is carried out and those responsible are held accountable."

"The members of the Security Council recalled their willingness to impose targeted sanctions against individuals or entities responsible for actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan including targeting of civilians, including women and children, through the commission of acts of violence, including killing, maiming, torture or rape or other sexual violence," stressed the statement.

South Sudan’s ceasefire monitoring commission (CTSAMM) and United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS dispatched) investigation teams to investigate the attacks.

UNMISS Human Rights Director, Eugene Nindorera, said in statements released by the peacekeeping mission that they reinforced the investigating teams on the ground due to the scale of the allegations and the number of women and girls that were raped.

"If you are looking at the number of rape cases that we have already registered, it is more than 150, and basically – especially in this specific context where we had seen some decrease in terms of violations and abuses and rape cases somehow because of the signing of the revitalized peace agreement – it is really a pity to see that this [is] happening right now," he added.

The Security Council called on South Sudan’s leaders to meet without delay all commitments made under cessation of hostilities agreements, including to refrain from attacks on the civilian population and to refrain from any acts of rape, sexual abuse.

The Council took the opportunity to recall the government officials in Juba that they have to establish the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing as provided in Chapter V of the peace agreement.