The Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Special Rapporteur), Honourable Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, on behalf of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), and on her own behalf, would like to add her voice, and support to the AU Campaign to “Restore the Dignity of Women and for Accountability in South Sudan” launched by H.E. Mme Bineta Diop, the AU Commission Chairperson’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security.
The Commission is deeply concerned about serious human rights violations in South Sudan since the outbreak of the conflict in 2013, especially the scale of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls which grossly violates their dignity and other human rights. According to reports, at least 217 cases of sexual violence have been documented in Juba between 8 and 25 July 2016 when fierce fighting flared in the capital.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security adopted in 2000, acknowledges the impact of armed conflict on women and girls and requires parties to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence during times of war. Furthermore, Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), specifically guarantees respect of the dignity inherent in any human being, and prohibits all forms of exploitation and degradation. In this regard, as we draw close to the end of the African Year of Human Rights, with a particular focus on the rights of women, it is important to highlight the challenges faced by women in conflict situations. In doing so, it is predominantly important to understand the plight of women in South Sudan because the South Sudanese women’s well-being and security still remain under constant threat.
While appreciating ratification of the African Charter by South Sudan, the Commission is saddened by the fact that gross human rights violations continue to be perpetuated in the country, without the perpetrators being brought to justice.
The Commission condemns the recurrence of these violations and lack of accountability and reparation to victims, and in this regard, the Commission urges the Government of South Sudan to:
- Strengthen the security of women and girls during conflict;
- Take necessary measures to ensure prompt, credible, transparent, independent, impartial and comprehensive investigations into allegations of sexual violence and other forms of violations perpetuated against women in South Sudan and
- Ensure that victims and their families obtain full and adequate redress including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition.