South Sudan rebel leader reiterates commitment to fight conflict-related sexual violence

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September 20, 2020 (JUBA) – Thomas Cirilo, leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS) declared his group commitment to prevent and respond to the conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and appointed a high-level body to coordinate between the groups and UNMISS.

In a statement issued on Friday Cirilo said that his movement recognizes that the CRSV is prohibited by the international human rights and humanitarian laws and the Bill of Rights of South Sudan.

“NAS is committed to prevent and respond, within its means, to conflict¬ related sexual violence and to take measures to discipline perpetrators in accordance with its zero Tolerance Policy to sexual violence, abuse and exploitation,” he further stressed.

After the eruption of the civil war in December 2013, sexual violence has been a widespread and pervasive feature of the conflict in South Sudan.

However, after the signing of the revitalized peace agreement, rape and sexual assaults decreased in the country but the continued violence in the Equatoria region between the government and the holdout rebel group increases the chances of the emergence of such human rights violations in the region.

The rebel leader recalled that NAS has since August 2019 instructed its commander to investigate allegations of sexual violence by its fighters and to take disciplinary and judicial measures against the perpetrators.

He pledged to facilitate and cooperate with an independent, international, impartial and fair investigation into all alleged incidences of sexual violence by members of NAS.

Also, he announced the appointment of “a high-level focal point on conflict-related sexual violence to serve as the interface between NAS and its senior commanders and the United Nations on issues related to conflict-related sexual violence”.

In a report issued in May 2020 about access to health for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan May 2020, the United Nations did not mention CRSV cases.

However, the reports spoke about NAS commanders who prevented civilians from Lasu Payam of Yei from seeking health care in the government-controlled Yei town in early 2019.

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