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18 February 2015 – Any peace agreement reached to end the conflict in South Sudan should reflect the commitments made at the end of 2014 to ensure accountability for sexual violence crimes, the UN Secretary-General’s Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict said today.
“I take note of the Communique on Preventing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence issued by Riek Machar on behalf of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/SPLA) in Opposition on 18 December 2014,” said Zainab Hawa Bangura.
In a press release issued today, Ms. Bangura said she is “pleased by the commitment expressed by the SPLM/SPLA in Opposition to issue clear orders prohibiting sexual violence through the chain of command, investigate alleged violations in a timely manner, and reinforce their military justice system to ensure accountability for sexual violence crimes.”
She also noted that the commitments made in the communique must be reflected in any peace accord in South Sudan to end a conflict that was sparked by a political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President, Mr. Machar.
“Crucially, the Communique also commits to facilitating the monitoring of sexual violence in the framework of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and ensuring that this issue is reflected in specific provisions of any peace agreement including those related to security arrangements and transitional justice mechanisms, and ensuring that those responsible for sexual violence are excluded from amnesty provisions,” Ms. Bangura said.
“I encourage SPLM/SPLA in Opposition to translate these commitments into action in order to effectively protect the women, children and men of South Sudan from sexual violence,” she said.
South Sudan faces considerable humanitarian challenges, which have increased substantially since the outbreak of violence across the country in mid-December 2013 that has sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to United Nations bases around the country.
The crisis has uprooted an estimated 1.9 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease in the South Sudan, which became the newest country in the world in 2011.