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SPLA accused of over 100 rape cases in Leer, Army Spokesperson denies

Eugene Nindorera Director at UNMISS Human Rights Division (file photo by Livingstone):

By Kidega Livingstone

The Department of Human Rights Division at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan said it has documented over one hundred rape cases on women and girls during last month’s fighting in Leer and Mayendit.

The Director of Human Rights Division at UNMISS Mr. Eugene Nindorera said that investigation conducted by UNMISS Human Rights Division into last month’s attacks in Leer areas indicated extensive use of sexual violence by government forces.

“Human Rights division has documented the rape and gang-rape of more than 100 women and girls of all age groups including the pregnant women and lactating mothers and girls as young as 4 years,” Nindorera said during a meeting between Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in Juba on Friday.

“In one instance, a young girl was gang raped by eight soldiers even after she lost consciousness. In some cases those who resisted rape were immediately shot dead,” he added.

He said the human rights division identified individuals that bear the greatest responsibility for the atrocities including county officials.

However, the SPLA has denied the allegation of sexual violence in Leer and Mayendit.

The SPLA Spokesperson Brigadier General Lul Ruai Kong said that SPLA headquarters is not aware of any atrocity committed by the SPLA forces in the area because nobody confirmed that it was the government soldiers who attacked the villages.

“Secondly I don’t know that they are meaning by the associate forces. Forces are very clear we have the national army, we have no any associated forces,” said Lul.

The army spokesperson said regarding the alleged involvement of the county commissioner he was not entitled to comment on the matter.

Efforts by Juba Monitor to contact the Governor of Southern Liech State for comments were unsuccessful by press time.

The Leer area in Southern Liech State has been the scene of heightened insecurity last month, as humanitarian agencies working in the area reported that more people fled for their lives amid sharp escalation in fighting and attacks on civilians.

Two weeks ago, a convoy consisting of peacekeepers and civilians came under fire when it stopped briefly to interact with a civilian in Rubkway, about 20 kilometers north of Leer town. The team was on a short patrol from the Mission’s Leer Temporary Operations Base to Thaker, in Mayendit County.

No one was injured in the incident, and so far, no damage to the vehicles has been identified.

UNMISS strongly condemned the attack against its personnel and called on all parties to respect the freedom of movement of UN personnel carrying out their mandate, and to cooperate with the peacekeepers as they work to protect civilians; monitor human rights; create a conducive environment for delivery of humanitarian aid, and support efforts to restore peace.

According to Nindorera, it was the responsibility of the government to stop and prevent the ongoing use of sexual violence in conflict in the country by taking concrete steps to ensure fair and credible justice for survivors and accountability for perpetrators.

“The government should not allow a county commissioner to continue committing war crime in total impunity. In my humble view the first step toward addressing any problem is to talk about it,” he said.

As documented in UNMISS /OHCHR report on freedom of opinion and expression released in February this year, sexual violence remains an issue considered sensitive in the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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