The Minister of Defense says the commanding officers of the organized forces are to blame for the rampant violence against women across the country.
Several reports by the UN and humanitarian groups have suggested that the perpetrators are mainly members of the organized forces, including the police, the army and opposition groups.
This week, the UN Human Rights Commission released a new report saying they have identified 23 more individuals who bear command or superior responsibility under international criminal law for serious crimes related to the conflict in South Sudan.
The investigators said they documented sexual violence, including brutal rapes including multiple gang rapes, sexual slavery, abductions, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, and mutilation of sexual organs as well as killings, at the hands of both government forces and those belonging to the opposition.
The army, in its action plan released in Juba earlier today, confirmed some of the reports.
Kuol Manyang Juuk, Defense Minister said the commanding officers in the field “must be held to account for failing to control their soldiers.”
He said the commanders bear the responsibility of controlling and upholding discipline within their units.
“They say; there is no bad soldier, but a bad commander or officer. [For] some actions done by individual soldiers that lead to sexual violence, the first [person] to be blamed is the commander,” Kuol said.
Kuol cautioned soldiers from using their guns to intimidate the civil population, saying their constitutional responsibility is to protect the citizen.
“Your people are weak, you are the strongest because you have the gun, and with the gun, you can do anything” reiterating that the commanders should own up to mistakes of their officers
“And for you [Commanders] not to be blamed, you must be vigilant. You should have informers because your work is to protect the population,” he added.
Minister Kuol Manyang was speaking during the launch of the SSPDF Action Plan on addressing Conflict-related to Sexual Violence in South Sudan.
“We will integrate the Action Plan on the grave violations against children into the army training curriculum,” Kuol concluded.
The comprehensive Action Plan done in partnership with UNICEF brought together various parties to the conflict for the first time to discuss protecting children from violence.
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