In an attempt to appease outraged citizens and subdue international condemnation, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said soldiers who rape civilians should be shot on sight.
“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
“I want the general chief of staff General Paul Malong and the defense 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.”
Rights groups said South Sudanese soldiers have raped women outside a UN compound in the capital, Juba and across the country based on their ethnicity.
Major funders of the South Sudanese government, mostly Western donors have been at odd with Kiir administration over deteriorating rights concerns. They are threatening to withdraw hundreds of millions in funding that support the East African nation’s health, education and military sectors.
South Sudan, which gained independence from Arab north in Khartoum in 2011 nearly plunged into genocide after a civil war ignited in 2013. Violence erupted in Juba threatening the peace agreement after a coup attempt was blamed on Vice President and rebel leaders Riek Machar.
South Sudan’s military said it has jailed a Major for 14 years for raping a teenager in Juba.
Thousands of civilians have been killed, often because of their ethnicity or perceived political alliances in South Sudan’s ongoing conflict. An estimated 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes.