U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Michael J. Adler said the Embassy is “deeply troubled” by reports of sexual violence and lack of accountability for such crimes in the country.
He made the remarks during the belated commemoration of the International Human Rights Day 2023.
It was celebrated under the theme “Combatting the Culture of Stigma against Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Conflict-related Sexual Violence.”
To mark the day, a local NGO, Steward Women with support from USAID implementing partner DT Global, held a panel discussion on the role of stakeholders in addressing barriers to access to justice and their role in bringing dignity and reconciliation to survivors of gender-based violence.
The event brought together representatives from law enforcement agencies and civil society groups among others.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Michael J Adler said there is a need to pay attention to ending sexual violence in conflict situations, as well as domestic violence and early and forced marriage.
He added that attention must be directed towards holding the perpetrators accountable for their actions.
“We are deeply troubled by the numerous reports of sexual violence in South Sudan and the lack of accountability that persists. I repeat we are deeply troubled by the lack of accountability for SGBV,” he said.
“All of us must continue to call attention to these abuses including the unacceptable practices of using sexual violence in conflict, domestic violence, and early and forced marriage.”
Mr Adler stated that addressing S-GBV, including conflict-related sexual violence, is vital to promoting accountability and supporting sustainable peace.
He added that this can only be achieved by holding the perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Ambassador Adler further said ending the vice requires systems and structures for accountability as well as means of storing essential safety and well-being for survivors.
“We call on the transitional government to prioritize ending sexual and gender-based violence, ensuring accountability for perpetrators and ensuring justice for victims.”
“This must be underscored by a national plan of action and collective commitment against gender-based violence. It must also include systems and structures for accountability and means of storing essential safety and wellbeing for survivors.”
For his part, Justice Garang Ajak, the High Court Judge at the GBV and Juvenilia specialized court in Juba said the institution ensures that cases brought to the court are tried.
“We the judges, do not go and look for cases, but cases brought to us,” he said.
“Up to now I think we don’t have any case that has been brought to the court by a competent institution and has not been tried, we don’t have.”
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