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Rape case file disappears at South Sudanese presidency blocking appeal: rights groups

South Sudanese presidential palace in Juba (Pinterest photo)
September 6, 2019 (JUBA) - Two international human rights groups unveiled that a case file of sexual assaults foreign aid workers and murder of a journalist by South Sudanese soldiers is missing since it was sent to President Salva Kiir in 2018.

On 6 September 2018, a South Sudanese court sentenced 10 soldiers to prison from seven years to life imprisonment for the rape of foreign aid workers and the murder of a journalist in the Terrain hotel in Juba on July 11, 2016. Also the military judges ordered the government to pay a compensation of $4,000 to each victim.

But, the case file has not been seen since it was sent to President Salva Kiir in 2018 for confirmation before the judgment was delivered, said a joint statement released by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on Friday 6 September.

As a result, one year after the rule, "the Supreme Court is unable to move forward with appeals by the victims and those convicted because of the missing file," said the joint statement.

"UN officials and diplomats strongly suspect the file was lost in the Office of the President," said the joint statement.

The sexual assault survivors said that the compensation was not commensurate with the crimes and wanted to appeal the verdict. also the convicted soldiers filed their intention to appeal the sentences.

“The authorities should ensure that there are no deliberate attempts to obstruct justice and locate the file, so the Supreme Court can examine the appeal,” said Antonia Mulvey, founder and executive director of Legal Action Worldwide.

For its part, Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch said: "The disappearance of the case file has effectively stalled the appeal process and serves as a classic example of the justice system failures that exacerbate the culture of impunity in South Sudan."