South Sudan president says soldiers who rape should be shot
By Denis Dumo
JUBA (Reuters) - The president of South Sudan said on Monday that soldiers who rape civilians should be shot, trying to mollify citizens outraged by abuses by security forces and quell growing international anger over attacks.
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.
The 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.
"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," Kiir said in a speech given during a visit to the town of Yei.
The area around the former business hub, near the Ugandan border, saw fierce fighting last year and is now home to a large contingent of soldiers.
"I want the general chief of staff General Paul Malong and the defence minister to report to me from now on if anything like this (rape) happens. In such a case, we will shoot the person who did it," Kiir said.
In December, the United Nations warned that the simmering ethnic violence was at risk of exploding into genocide.
The conflict has already forced more than 3 million people to flee their homes, and many women report being targeted by soldiers when they leave U.N.-protected camps to search for firewood or food. Continued...