A new United Nations report may have presented yet another shocking truth of Africa’s newest country’s internal struggle over the past couple of years. Following news aligned in a report by Amnesty International, that says that more than 60 men and boys were suffocated in a shipping container by government forces, the report claims that militias allied to the South Sudanese army were allowed to rape women while fighting rebels and the rape cases rather than being dissuaded, served as their wages.
Investigators have found that 1,300 women were raped last year in the new country and while the government of South Sudan denies the targeting of civilians by their army and claims to have launched an investigation, the report by UN is still disheartening. The new report resulted from work done by an assessment team sent by the High Commissioner to South Sudan from October 2015 to January 2016 which was run in accordance with a resolution by the Human Rights Council in July 2015.
The UN report reveals that the militia operated under a “do what you can and take what you can” agreement that allowed them to rape and abduct women and girls as a form of payment. In the same vein, they stole personal property and raided cattle. The report also defines the scale and type of sexual violence that happened in South Sudan as one of the most horrendous human right abuses in the whole world and also adds that despite that fact, it still remains for the most part, off the world’s radar.
The most glaring, unbelievable part of this report is that although a lot of the sexual violence and atrocities were committed by rebel forces in the country, the state bore the greatest responsibility during 2015, given the weakening of opposition forces. There are no words to categorize that type of betrayal and it becomes difficult if this report is to be believed to see anything of a sustained peaceful regime in the country that is barely five years in existence. It is in fact difficult to see how the people will rise from what must surely be seen as a tumultuous past.
It will not be the first time that the topic of prosecution for war crimes will be spoken of regarding South Sudan’s president; Salva Kiir Mayardit and now vice president but former rebel leader; Riek Machar, but should the details of the report be verified as the truth, voices calling for their prosecution may get louder and more incessant.