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UN experts conclude discussions in South Sudan on conflict-related sexual violence

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 UN experts conclude discussions in South Sudan on conflict related sexual violence
UN experts conclude discussions in South Sudan on conflict-related sexual violence

1 The United Nations Human Rights Commission in South Sudan concluded its tenth visit to the country today, from August 2-5.

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2 Made up of Yasmin Sooka (chair), Andrew Clapham and Barney Afako, the commissioners were following up on the findings and recommendations of their latest report, entitled “Conflict-related sexual violence against women and girls in South Sudan”.

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3 “The details of the report are heartbreaking to read, however we see it as important to stay true to the survivors’ stories and play our part in passing them on to their fellow South Sudanese, the South Sudanese government as well as the international community.

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4 ”, said Yasmin Sooka, president of the Commission.

5 Released in March 2022 in Geneva, the report details the widespread and systematic nature of sexual violence, drawing on several years of interviews with survivors, witnesses and their families, conducted in South Sudan and also in refugee settings.

6 Their testimonies convey the harrowing experiences of surviving women and girls, illustrating the lasting impacts on their lives and on the social fabric of South Sudanese communities.

7 A shorter and more accessible version has also been developed and translated for dissemination in the country.

8 “We felt it was vital to visit South Sudan and share our findings and recommendations on conflict-related sexual violence in the country.

9 We are grateful to have been able to visit and interact with key stakeholders,” said Sooka.

10 The report finds that all armed groups have been involved in sexual violence and that, despite the signing of action plans to address it and some nascent justice efforts, the state’s overall response so far has fallen short of expectations.

11 the scale and severity of the crisis.

12 “We reiterate our call on the government to publicly commit to a ‘zero tolerance policy’ with regard to sexual violence and to immediately signal genuine intentions by withdrawing from and even prosecuting senior officials known to perpetrate sexual violence,” the official said.

13 Commissioner Andrew Clapham.

14 The experts met with government officials, representatives of civil society, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN system, as well as members of the diplomatic community.

15 The three Commissioners held a press conference in Juba on the morning of August 4, after which they participated in a day-long dialogue organized by civil society organizations.

16 Entitled “What’s Next on the Commission’s Recommendations and the South Sudan Armed Forces Action Plan to Address Conflict-Related Sexual Violence”, the event brought together stakeholders including civil society, government, armed forces and the judiciary.

17 The dialogue was an opportunity for the Commission to present its recommendations, listen to stakeholders, discuss strategies and identify next steps.

18 “While the focus of our discussions this week has been on crimes taking place in connection with the country’s conflicts, this appalling situation is set against a backdrop of broader patterns of impunity for serious crimes in South Sudan, particularly against women and girls who continue to have a low status in society,” commented Barney Afako.

19 “Critical nation-building opportunities, in particular the long-awaited process to develop a national constitution, must be fully inclusive and participatory in order to establish a lasting framework to address the causes of conflict and the dehumanization of women and girls in the world country,” he added.
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20 Background of the Commission The UN Human Rights Commission in South Sudan is an independent body mandated by the UN Human Rights Council.

21 It was first established in March 2016 and since then its mandate has been renewed every year.

The Commission’s latest report was published as a conference room document at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 21, 2022.

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