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HRW accuses army of crimes against civilians

Author: Ayuen Panchol | Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2019

File: Civilians fleeing Kajo Keji county, toward the southern border with Uganda [Photo| Jason Patinkin]

The Human Rights Watch has accused the national army of committing crimes against civilians in Yei River State recently.According to the human rights watchdog, the atrocities were meted out against the civilians between December 2018 and March 2019.

This occurred amidst government’s operation aimed at flushing out armed groups, particularly that of General Thomas Cirilo in Yei River.

In a report launched on Monday, Human Rights Watch says government soldiers shot at civilians, looted extensively, burned homes and crops, and chased thousands of residents from their villages.

The report also documented accounts of rape and sexual violence by soldiers in Mukaya and Otogo counties.

Jehanne Henry, the Associate Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in an interview with Eye Radio said government soldiers were responsible.

“Since December of 2018 the government started a campaign  to root rebels out of the state. In the process they attacked many villages and targeted civilians. In some cases instructed all the civilians to flee and then proceeded to loot all of their possessions.”

She further said that almost 10,000 people have been freshly displaced.

“when we arrived in Yei in march almost 10,000 people have been freshly displaced from this government operations in neighboring towns and villages and since then we have heard of thousands of others who have also been displaced.”

Jehanne Henry went on to say that through interviews, Human Rights Watch learnt that opposition groups partly committed the crimes.

She, however, urged the government and opposition leaders to identify and hold to account the perpetrators.

“We also had about how some of the rebel forces had raged attacks against civilians so it is clear that abuses against civilians are happening on all sides and that all party need to stop this crimes against civilians and hold those responsible to account.

When contacted by Eye Radio, the SSPDF Spokesperson, Major-General Lul Ruai said he is aware of the report and will comment after studying it.

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