Juba - 26 June 2023
Photo: Displaced Women at Bentiu Protection of Civilians (PoC), UNMISS
Following focus group discussions in Bentiu, Yei, Bor and Juba, members of the Survivors' Network South Sudan (SUNSS) met in Juba on 26 June 2023, in the context of events organised to mark 19 June - the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) formed their national network SUNSS at a similar meeting a year earlier also held in the South Sudanese capital Juba. Whilst last year survivors focused on their views and recommendations on the establishment of a Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH), this time, the focus was on reparation.
Survivors expressed concerns about trust in these entities and fears of further stigmatisation and harm through retaliation if they were to share their stories or claim reparation for sexual violence crimes. They recommended that civil society organisations that have been accompanying them through their challenges be involved in providing outreach, sensitisation and also accompanying them in these processes.
They raised the recognition of children born of sexual violence and the need to ensure that measures are adopted to ensure that they can freely express themselves in a safe manner if they wish. These children suffer extensive stigma and neglect, as seen in our video on children born of CRSV.
Survivors also raised that they would be a need for sensitisation and working with the whole community when it comes to reparation - so that those receiving benefits are not resented or threatened, but instead that benefits to the community are understood, as well as reducing stigma and blame around CRSV at community level. If benefits such as compensation are individual, community members would need to understand why for instance a female victim was receiving the money rather than the husband or community.
The role of the media was also discussed with recommendations for adequate trainings for journalists to ensure that survivors are not exposed, stigmatised or re-traumatised, but instead that the messages around acknowledgement of the harm suffered are effectively communicated. In a related training with Journalists undertaken by Rights for Peace and CIGPJ, its partner on this project, journalists also agreed and requested further training in what is a shrinking civic space in South Sudan.
Progress and momentum on the establishment of a Commission for Truth Reconciliation and Healing is advancing, with draft laws having been circulated in May 2023 at a high-level Conference on Transitional Justice in Juba.
The SUNSS Checklist on Reparation can be found by clicking this link below.