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UN panel accuses South Sudan officials of gang rapes

United Nations experts have urged south Sudanese authorities to investigate allegations that they were complicit in the systematic rape of girls as young as nine.

United Nations experts have urged south Sudanese authorities to investigate allegations that they were complicit in the systematic rape of girls as young as nine.

The Commission for Human Rights in South Sudan stated on Monday that there were credible suspicions that a county commissioner in the oil-rich state of Unity in the country’s northern region was responsible for planning and coordinating a series of gang rapes at a military facility.

United Nations specialists said in a statement that the documented abuses included beheadings, victims of rape being made to carry the severed heads of their attackers, victims being burned alive, and days of savage sexual assaults.

Commission member Barney Afako stated, “Conflict-related rape and sexual violence in Unity State has become so systematic and is a direct result of impunity.”

Sexual violence has been used as a weapon in the civil war in South Sudan, which broke out in 2013 and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, according to investigators.

Witnesses told investigators that the state official planned and authorised the attacks carried out by his deputy and followed strikingly similar patterns across several places, as detailed in the UN statement collected and analysed in Unity.

The minister of media and government spokesman for South Sudan, Michael Makuei, responded by calling the commission’s statement a fabrication.

He told the Reuters news agency, “They come and sit in hotels here in Juba and fabricate these false reports on South Sudan to make a living … I am saying these are false reports fabricated against the government.”

The commission found that the violations occurred among people of different political stripes. More than 400 women and girls were kidnapped, raped, tortured, and sold into sexual slavery in Western Equatoria in 2018, according to the opposition governor nominated to his post.

The SPLM/A-IO, led by Vice President Riek Machar, has denied involvement in the crimes that have been reported, according to military spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel.

Because “they do not know who is fighting who in those areas where these accusations are made,” Lam argues that the report is misguided.

Attempts to get officials from Unity and Western Equatoria to comment were fruitless.

After declaring its independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan quickly plunged into a spiral of vicious ethnic warfare and revenge killings in the years that followed.

Although a peace agreement was signed this year, the United Nations estimates that 9.4 million people, or more than 75% of the population, would need humanitarian aid in 2019.

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan was established in 2016 by the United Nations Human Rights Council to monitor human rights conditions and make recommendations on responsibility and accountability.

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