UN Human Rights Council welcomes South Sudan court ruling against military rapists

UN Human Rights Chief in South Sudan, Yasmin Sooka (File photo)

September 9th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan welcomes has welcomed a decision by the SPLA court on Thursday to sentence SPLA soldiers convicted of rape and murder during the Terrain Hotel incident in July 2016.

The South Sudanese soldiers attacked the Juba’s Terrain Hotel in July 2016 following clashes at the South Sudan’s Presidential Palace in Juba between guards loyal to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and those loyal to then First Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar.

The soldiers raped, looted and then killed several aid workers at Terrain Hotel. A South Sudanese journalist called John Gatluak was also killed in the incident.

On Thursday, a military in Juba sentenced ten soldiers for the Terrain Hotel atrocities. Two were sentenced to life in prison and eight other were sentenced to different years in jail ranging from seven to ten years in prison.

In a press statement seen by the Nyamilepedia on Saturday, the Chairperson of the Commission on human rights in South Sudan, Yasmin Sooka, said the judgement remains as a test to prove that the country is capable of combating impunity.

“The Commission welcomed the judgment – a rare instance against soldiers, who have frequently been accused of violence ­both against the civilian population and humanitarian workers as it shows that the Government of South Sudan is able to muster the political will to combat impunity,” said the statement.

The UN diplomat is concerned that, South Sudan women involved in this cycle of sexual violence and have not been able to obtain justice might not draw attention as this high-profile rape cases.

“Yet it deplored that the many South Sudanese women raped in the same cycle of violence have not been able to obtain justice, raising fears that crimes committed against locals may not receive the same attention as high-profile cases involving foreigners,”she said in the statement.

She emphasized the importance of accountability when it comes to cases that involve sexual-related violence against women.

“Accountability in cases of sexual violence is vital in South Sudan,”she said adding that This trial should become a precedent to deter further violence and provide victims with sorely needed reparation. Otherwise Terrain will be remembered as an exception to the rule of impunity.”