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UN investigating alleged raping of women in Yei River

Author: Garang Abraham Malaak | Published: Monday, May 4, 2020

File: David Shearer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan meeting ordinary South Sudanese. PHOTO: UNMISS

The UN Mission in South Sudan says investigations into the alleged raping of 16 women by men in uniform in Yei County has begun.

According to the head of UNMISS, the Human Rights Commission is looking into who committed the acts and how many women were raped.

 

This follows last week’s assertion by a member of the national parliament that the women were sexually assaulted between March and April this year.

According to Honorable Paul Yoane, the crimes took place in Lasu, Otugo, Rubeke and Libogo areas.

“I was informed that in March, several women were raped in the hands of our brothers who are holding guns,” he said.

The SSPDF said no one has presented such allegations to the military headquarters, Bilpam.

It also said there is no clear information on which men in uniform raped the women.

“Nobody has officially come forward to complain about the allegations made so the statement remains as men in uniform. So we do not know who these men are.”

The SPLA-IO also denied having forces in the areas mentioned.

When asked by Eye Radio on what the UN is doing regarding the allegations, the head of UNMISS, David Shearer revealed that a commission was already conducting its findings.

“We have heard of the report and there are human rights people down there looking into it,” he said.

Last week, a human rights defender called for the punishment of soldiers accused of raping the 19 women.

Jame Kolok, the Executive Director of Foundation for Development and Accountable Governance said such incidents continue to happen because of reluctance by the government to establish the hybrid court to try suspects of gross human rights violations.

Over the years, UNMISS has been conducting its own investigations into alleged crimes in South Sudan. These reports are often presented to the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Commission.

On this latest incident, David Shearer stated that they are “carrying out a thorough investigation rather than pointing figure before we know who the perpetrators are.”

He said the results of their findings will soon be made available.

“We are not shying away at this moment but we are looking into it very closely,” he told Eye Radio on Monday.

Civilians in Yei River have continued to bear the brunt of violence between government troops and forces belonging to the armed opposition, NAS.

Last year, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission stated that Sexual and gender-based violence including rape, abductions, and conscription of child soldiers in South Sudan increased in the past years.

In the defunct Yei River state, a women’s group leader stated last year that nearly 40 cases of rape have been registered in four counties of the State.

Chapter Five of the 2018 peace deal mandates the unity government to initiate legislation for the establishment of an independent hybrid judicial body, to try suspects of crimes committed during the civil war.

However, according to the human rights defender, the government seems unwilling to set up the Hybrid Court for South Sudan.

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