Court hands five SSPDF soldiers a combined 50-year-jail term
Five South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) soldiers will have been sentenced to a combined 50 years in jail.
The five were each handed a 10-year jail sentence after a Yei river County Court was found guilty of rape and murder.
The quintuple was convicted by a Yei’s general court-martial.
The five soldiers were also stripped of their ranks, discharged from the military, condemned to up to ten years in jail, and ordered to compensate the survivors.
They are said to have committed the crimes on multiple dates, between June 1 and 27, 2022.
The court also heard that the accused committed murder and defiled a minor, between 2021 and 2022.
The Yei General Court Martial is an ongoing partnership between the UNMISS and the Military Justice Directorate to promote accountability within the forces – SSPDF.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) applauded the court’s decision, calling it a constructive move made by the South Sudanese government to pursue accountability and justice for survivors of sexual abuse in Yei, Central Equatoria State.
“We commend the authorities and the SSPDF for holding perpetrators accountable for the horrific crimes committed. The community played an essential role, as they demanded that these cases be investigated and adjudicated,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan Nicholas Haysom.
UNMISS funded survivors and witnesses to receive counselling before and after the trial, as well as interpretation and logistics assistance such as transportation through the Yei River Women’s Association.
Survivors were also assigned a dedicated support person during the proceedings.
“We must ensure that survivors get the help they need, are treated with compassion and respect, and are not further traumatised,” Haysom added.
Aggrey Cyrus Kanyikwa, Commissioner of Yei River County, expressed his appreciation for the General Court Martial’s quick installation, calling it “a declaration of an end to impunity and lawlessness”, adding that “it proves that South Sudan can end impunity and provide justice; and that nobody is above the law.”
UNMISS and partners have been supporting processes for accountability and access to justice, including justice for children, through a range of special and mobile courts.
The judgments are anticipated to be confirmed in accordance with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army Act.