The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict today commended 54 ranking members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) for signing “explicit undertakings” to prevent conflict-related sexual violence.
“This is an encouraging step towards the protection of women, children and men of South Sudan from such crimes,” said Zainab Hawa Bangura.
The Special Representative is also engaging in a similar process with the Government of South Sudan, on the basis of a Joint Communique on conflict-related sexual violence between the Government and the United Nations, signed by President Salva Kiir on 11 October 2014.
Ms. Bangura said 54 commanders made the commitment in Pagak, South Sudan, on 31 October, including Lt. Gen. John Buth Teny, one of the highest ranking SPLA-IO Commanders, as well as three major generals, six brigadier generals, 13 colonels, 10 lieutenant colonels and 20 majors.
The undertakings, which are a central element of an action plan of SPLA-IO to combat sexual violence, focus on accountability, timely and rigorous investigations, cooperation with military justice authorities, and protection of victims and witnesses, judicial actors, humanitarians and service providers, her office said in a press release.
“These undertakings mean that each senior officer takes individual responsibility as well as command responsibility for his troops, and publicly declares that he will hold each soldier accountable for sexual violence crimes,” Ms. Bangura said.
The signing took place following a workshop related to prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence organized by the Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, together with the senior women protection adviser from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The engagement is undertaken in the framework of Security Council resolution 2106 (2013) on sexual violence in conflict.
The commanders’ undertakings reinforce the commitment expressed by Riek Machar, Chairman of SPLA/SPLM (In Opposition), in a communique on preventing conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan in December 2014.