The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, and the Heads of Mission of Canada and the UK issue the following statement in South Sudan.
The Heads of Mission express deep concern regarding recurrent reports of high levels of sexual and gender-based violence affecting young children and women in South Sudan. This violence includes a surge of attacks in recent weeks in Juba, as well as persistent conflict-related sexual violence in parts of Central Equatoria and Unity, and the use of sexual violence by militias in multiple regions. Furthermore, we are concerned about the prevailing culture of impunity for the commission of these horrific crimes, which emboldens perpetrators to continue with these acts.
We welcome the public statement by the Minister for Gender, Child and Social Welfare on 24th June 2020 in which she calls for justice to be upheld for these “atrocious” acts. While there have been some positive developments in terms of accountability, including the conviction and sentencing of several perpetrators amongst State security forces in recent months by civilian courts, these remain the exception to the rule.
We therefore urge the R-TGoNU to investigate all reported incidents and to hold the perpetrators accountable through criminal prosecution in courts. Making the Gender-Based Violence Court fully functional as soon as possible would be an important step in this regard, along with provisions for legal aid and representation. It is also critical to ensure that measures to prevent sexual and gender-based violence are in place, including the full implementation of the Action Plans on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence of military forces, as well as efforts to overcome social barriers and stigma associated with reporting. Improving access to medical care for survivors of sexual violence is also key to prevent further physical and psychological deterioration and should be prioritised by the Government.
There is no place for sexual and gender-based violence in a peaceful South Sudan.