South Sudan's army committed atrocities, Amnesty says

AP News
Posted: Oct 25, 2016 6:34 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A 6-year old girl who was killed by rocket fire from a helicopter gunship. A journalist who was killed because of his ethnicity. A 15-year-old girl who was gang-raped.

A new report by Amnesty International says they are among the victims of crimes committed by South Sudanese soldiers when clashes with the opposition in the capital, Juba, killed hundreds of people in July.

The new report describes how atrocities continued even after the fighting stopped.

Soldiers raped and gang-raped more than 200 women on the basis of ethnicity over a one-week period just after the clashes ended, according to Amnesty International.

The report called the pattern of sexual violence carried out by soldiers "systemic," adding that "pillage and destruction was so enormous that it could not have been done without, at a minimum, a large degree of command acquiescence."

Soldiers also were seen looting a U.N. agency food storage site, used to feed around 220,000 people, two days after the opposition withdrew, the report said.

Opposition fighters also put thousands of civilian lives in danger, according to Amnesty International, entering U.N. civilian protection sites during clashes, potentially in an attempt to use people inside as human shields.

South Sudan's government has agreed to the formation of a hybrid court set up by the African Union to investigate war crimes committed during its civil war, which began in December 2013 and has killed tens of thousands. A fragile peace deal signed in August 2015 has not stopped the violence.

"Given the country's past record, there is good reason to believe that senior officials responsible for the key decisions behind the abuses will never be brought to justice," the new report said.