Crimes of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in South Sudan are rapidly growing due to the ongoing armed conflict and cultural behaviours emanating from customary acts. The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs - supported by UNDP and funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands - designed and delivered a five-day training course for some 42 judges, prosecutors and investigations representing the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Judiciary of South Sudan, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense as well as social workers. The overarching aim of the training is to help ensure that the answer to crimes of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in South Sudan achieves meaningful protection for survivors and just trials for suspected perpetrators.
Identification of SGBV as the area of focus and priority highlights the commitment of the Government of South Sudan to ensuring that the administration of justice protects SGBV survivors through a fair, objective and independent application of the law.
The core of the five-day training was the application of the South Sudanese legal system and relevant international norms. Participants at the trainingiscussed the statutory provisions as they apply in South Sudan ensuring that participants are familiar with these provisions.
Commenting on the workshop, police investigator, James Carlo said, “The workshop is significant for us, and it offers an opportunity to enhance our SGBV understanding and acquire the knowledge that we can implement when we get back to our workplaces.”
It is intended that participants and stakeholders will rely feedback from training to enhance a manual on the prosecution and investigation of SGBV currently being developed by UNDP in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutionals Affairs.
Hon. Filberto Mareng Mayout, Director of Public Prosecution, noted that “this training opportunity has introduced prosecutors and police investigators to advanced methodologies to properly investigate and establish that a sexually related crime has been committed.”
Deputy Director of the South Sudan National Police Service, Major General James Kuaj underscored that using traditional and customary laws to resolve SGBV as opposed to the criminal justice system is contradictory, and these two systems must reconcile. Citing as an example he noted that for some communities, rape is not a crime, but a means to get married. “The work of the police is dependent on investigations – if the police do not properly investigate SGBV cases, even a blatant crime e will be thrown out of the in courtrooms,” General James Kuaj explained.
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs said that SGBV sometimes is not considered an offence based on customary and traditional practices. However, when dealing with SGBV cases, he emphasised that the Manual on SGBV and the Child Act are to be used to supplement the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Demonstrating their newly acquired skills, at the close of the workshop, the participants staged a mock trial.