South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has ordered the execution of any military officer found guilty of rape. He said the application of capital punishment was a way to free the country of bad elements.
“Those who are doing unlawful acts, raping women and girls, this is not the policy of the government … the body of a woman cannot be taken by force. Let us do one thing; we get rid of bad elements amongst us and we remain clean, pure and perfect,” Kiir said.
“From today onward, if such a thing happens, I want them to bring me a report that somebody has committed such a crime (rape) and has been shot,” he added.
Those who are doing unlawful acts, raping women and girls, this is not the policy of the government ... the body of a woman cannot be taken by force.
He was speaking in the Yei River State whiles addressing a gathering of religious faithful marking the 100th year anniversary of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan. The church was established in the area by missionaries in 1917.
Church officials on their part called for peace and unity in the country that has been blighted by strife since independence. South Sudan is Africa’s youngest nation, it became independent from Sudan in 2011.
Yei town, formerly known as small London during the liberation era, is located about 100 miles west of the capital Juba. it has been plagued by insecurity following a renewed fighting between forces of the former First Vice President, Dr Riek Machar, and the President’s army in Juba in July 2016.
Kiir’s visit was the first outside of the capital Juba since the country gained independence. The country had been in the global news spotlight following a series of rape cases involving members of the security forces.
South Sudan was plunged into a sporadic civil war in 2013 when Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy, an ethnic Nuer. Rights groups and U.N. monitors say soldiers have gang-raped women based on their ethnicity. A few rapes by rebels have also been reported.
Reuters news agency notes that reports of sexual violence, committed with impunity, raised tensions between the South Sudanese government and Western donors, who bankroll most of the country’s health and education needs and largely fund a 15,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force that costs around $1 billion dollars a year.
Last year December, the United Nations warned that the simmering ethnic violence was at risk of exploding into genocide.