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Rape Used As Weapon Of War in South Sudan

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Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
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Civil society organisations working in South Sudan want the international community to do more to hold perpetrators of Sexual and Gender based violence to account.

In a report released in Nairobi on Thursday the organization says in the history of the country’s conflicts nobody has been prosecuted for sexual violence.

They say in the latest conflict that lasted close to two years, sexual violence was used as a weapon of war. The report says in the absence of strong domestic laws to punish those who perpetrated the crimes, there will be no justice for thousands of victims of sexual violence.

The signing of the peace agreement by warring parties in August 2015 and the formation of a government of national unity has brought a sense of cautious optimism in South Sudan that guns will be silenced. There is a fear, however, that those who committed various crimes will go unpunished, especially because of gaps in the country’s laws.

“The human rights violations occurring in South Sudan including sexual violence may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. So this is an international justice issue”, says Alicia Luedke of Justice Africa.

The report admits that it is impossible to tell how many people were sexually abused during the conflict, but it points out that there was deliberate and systemic use of rape as a weapon of war.

“In an environment where there is not much money to pay armed actors, being able to pillage and loot is seen as a way of compensating actors who cannot receive monetary compensation,” says David Deng, Research director, South Sudan law society.

Several reports by the United Nations and the African Union  have documented that all parties to the conflict have committed acts of rape and sexual violence. One report by the UN estimates that over a five month period 1,300 rapes were reported last year.

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