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60 SSPDF soldiers detained, await trial over ‘major crimes’

Juba, South Sudan,

June 4, 2021 – At least 60 members of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) from different ranks face court-martial over atrocities committed against civilians in different parts of the country.

60 SSPDF soldiers detained, await trial over ‘major crimes’
A picture shows a badge of a personnel member of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (Photo credit: ALEX MCBRIDE/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a document view by Nyamilepedia, the soldiers were arrested from different army headquarters in the country.

The document indicates that those arrested were 19 in Renk town army headquarters of 1st Infantry Division, 22 in Malakal town army headquarter of 2nd Infantry Division, and 19 from eight Infantry Division and tenth Infantry Division in Malual Chot army headquarter division in Jonglei.

SSPDF Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said that those arrested are under detention and they will be presented to the court for trial.

“The suspects are in detention, they were suspected of having committed major crimes for which SSPD was listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General Annual report on children and armed conflict,” he said.

The UN document alleges five major crimes attributed to the SSPDF, ranging from sexual gender-based violence (GBV) against women, girls, recruitment of child soldiers, killing, maiming, raping and abductions, crime against minors, and hindering humanitarian access in hard-to-reach areas.

Lul said the SSPDF is acting on its own action plan that provides concrete, specific, and time-bound commitment aimed at preventing and responding to sexual violence in a holistic manner through what he described as the five pillars.

He said these pillars are, according to Lul, prevention, and accountability, protection of victims and witnesses, communication, monitoring, and evaluation.

Earlier, the Directorate of Military Justice had established four military mobile courts to promote truth, justice, and fostering peace among soldiers in various military units in the areas and towns.

Lul said SSPDF Mobile General Court-martial “would deliver justice” in 1st, 2nd, 8th, and 10th infantry divisions respectively.

The military mobile courts are to complement criminal prosecutions, truth-telling, and reparations in promoting social healing in the country.

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