EDITORIAL: Kudos to Jonglei for saving abductees; prosecution now needed

EDITORIAL: Kudos to Jonglei for saving abductees; prosecution now needed
An armed Toposa cattle keeper walks through a deserted cattle grazing land (photo credit: Screengrab via Phil Moore)

The Jonglei State government did a commendable job of saving six abducted children from the hands of armed criminals who recently attacked districts in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

This act confirms the seriousness of state government officials in flashing criminal elements out of the state, maintaining security, and ending the crime of child abduction, which has spread recently.

Child abduction is a tragedy that is not widely recognised in South Sudan, amid the effects of the civil war and community conflicts taking place in some states. There are various motives behind it, including recruiting children into militias and taking them to certain jobs.

Girls are also a target because of the dowry paid in various cultures, mostly in huge numbers of herds of cattle. It is also reported that kidnapping is often purely for financial motives, as one child, regardless of his age, is sold for a sum of money that is not small, which means that we are facing a crime of human trafficking that is growing and expanding in our societies.

“We want to implement a policy that makes all societies live in harmony. It is not in our culture to steal people’s children. This is a crime and it must be condemned,” said Jacob Akech Dengdiit, the acting governor of Jonglei State, after retrieving the children from the kidnappers.

It is important that this talk be circulated to the rest of the states and regions in the country where child abduction is widespread. The authorities should commit themselves to turning their words into action. And the first task is to collect weapons spread in the hands of the herders, who use them to loot cows, conduct revenge attacks, and kidnap children.

In the conflict that is renewed from time to time between the communities of Twic and Ngok in the Aneet region, it is mentioned that the head of the Abyei Administration, Kuol Dim Kuol, stated that “politicians are the ones behind fueling the conflict,” and in conflicts, crimes of kidnapping children and livestock, sexual violence, and all other crimes occur. The association of politicians with conflicts is very close. Politicians should not encourage conflicts on the ground, and the sons and daughters of the areas who serve in the army should not supply their communities with weapons and ammunition.

What the Jonglei government has done comes within the framework of implementing the outcomes of the peace conferences that took place between Jonglei and Pibor on stopping cattle raids and abductions, which is a good thing and deserves praise.

Nonetheless, we call on the authorities in Pibor administration to follow the same method. It is prudent that we implement crime prevention strategies. First of all, severe penalties must be set for criminals who kidnap children so that they can serve as a lesson to others. Let us stop the impunity and not tolerate those who commit grave crimes against human rights.