UN Human Rights Commission Concerned Over Delay of Terrain Case verdict

By Ojwe Lumara

The United Nations Human Right Commission for South Sudan has raised concerns over delay in passing the verdicts in the Terrain case.

JUBA, 27 August 2018 [Gurtong]-11 soldiers accused of rape, murder and looting in Terrain Hotel during the July 2016 fighting in Juba have been appearing in the military court martial for over a year now.

The trial ended early this year and the court is expected to pass the final verdict, but it has not done so up to now.

Addressing a press conference on Friday in Juba, the chairperson of the UN Human Rights Commission for South Sudan Yasmin Sooka said they were concerned about delay in passing of the final verdict of Terrain case.

Ms Sooka led other members of the Commission including Andrew Clapham and Barney Afako as they started their field visit to South Sudan on August 20 where they met Government officials and key ministers.  They also met the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan, David Shearer, diplomats, staff of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and UN Agencies, members of civil society, and religious leaders to discuss the current human rights situation in the country.

Andrew Clapham, a member of the Commission called on the Military Court to also prosecute senior army officers who failed to control the alleged crimes at Terrain Hotel.

Commissioner Andrew Clapham noted that it was not enough to only prosecute junior military officers who might have acted on command of their senior command.

“There is also a distinct clause in the Military Court that allows for prosecution of those who were in command and effective control of their troops at that time  and who have either failed to prevent it or failed to bring them for punishment afterwards,” Clapham said.

According to the army, the verdicts for the accused soldiers have been approved by the military leadership waiting date for their sentencing.

Major General Lul Ruai Kong, the SPLA Spokesperson said the army was still engaging the stakeholders to the case before a day for the sentencing would be announced, according to the Juba Monitor newspaper.

“We would want to inform the stakeholders first including the owner of Terrain, the American government and the victims. A day will be set and the final verdict will be announced,” Gen Lul said.

The Commissioners left on Friday to visit Uganda, Sudan and Kenya, where they will visit refugee camps and settlements along the South Sudanese border. The Commissioners will conclude their mission in Ethiopia on 30 and 31 August holding meetings with African Union leaders, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), senior UN officials, as well as other members of the international community, according to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

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