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Army authorities asked to train soldiers on human rights

Army authorities asked to train soldiers on human rights
SSPDF soldiers after a fighting in Lalo, South Sudan on October 16, 2016 | Credit | Bullen Chol/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A law practitioner has suggested training of the organized forces on the transitional constitution in a bid to end human rights violations.

This comment comes after a health worker was illegally detained and tortured in Mingkaman town by soldiers.

They had accused Mabil Mabor – a midwife – of stepping over ashes the soldiers had sprinkled on the ground to mark a line that separates their base from the civilian side of the market.

The South Sudan transitional Constitution 2011 stipulates that: “No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Advocate Madool Alier, who works for Kur and Company law firm, blames the incident on lack of training.

“It is the responsibility of the government, because when you recruit a soldier, you need to educate them about the law, which says ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary torture’,” he explained.

For his part, the Commissioner of Awerial County, Philip Mawut, agreed with Alier – saying the soldiers are indeed ignorant of the law:

“It is always messy because most of the soldiers are not aware of the constitution because the law does not allow torturing,” Mawut stated.

“For us who are intellectual, we know this law and it is really saddening to see soldiers going contrary to the law like the way the health workers were tortured.”

The concerned military departments are yet to comment on the incident. However, there have been similar reports of abuse by government soldiers.

Several soldiers have been accused of brutality, rape, robbery, and extra-judicial killing over the years. Despite such reports, only a handful of the violators have faced the law, particularly those who committed crimes against foreign nationals.

In July 2016, approximately 50 to 100 soldiers looted the Terrain Hotel in Juba, where they proceeded to rape five foreign women. Ten soldiers were later sentenced to jail for the crimes in August 2018.

And recently, a soldier who gunned down three foreign construction workers in Akon, Warrap State, was sentenced to death by firing squad in March 2023.