27 May 2019, Juba - National stakeholders met to discuss actionable steps towards strengthening prevention and response measures to address gender-based violence (GBV) cases in South Sudan on Monday 27 May. The roundtable event was presided over by the Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare Hon. Awut Deng Achuil, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Hon. Paulino Wanawilla Unango and Chief Justice of South Sudan His Lordship Chan Reec Madut.
Representatives from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNDP, UNFPA and UNMISS Rule of Law were on hand to contribute to the discussions on consolidation of institutional frameworks to eliminate GBV in South Sudan.
“We are proud to witness the establishment of the GBV Court, and I want to thank the Netherlands for their support in seeing through this vision. Government institutions, service providers and development partners have exerted a lot of effort towards addressing GBV,” said Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare Hon. Awut Deng Achuil, adding that development of a GBV legislation will close legal loopholes that currently allow perpetrators to avoid justice and address the issue of safe spaces and accommodation for survivors of violence. Hon. Awut Deng Achuil also commented that a finalized concept for safe homes, prepared by the Ministry in collaboration with UNFPA, was nearly ready for presentation to the Council of Ministers.
Chief Justice of South Sudan His Lordship Chan Reec Madut took the occasion to highlight the newly established GBV Court at the Judiciary of South Sudan, supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and UNDP.
“The establishment of the GBV court, along with the juvenile court, are big developments to the judicial system in South Sudan,” said Chief Justice Madut. The Government of South Sudan has signed a joint communique with the UN, where a key action point is the establishment of the GBV court in South Sudan and holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable for their actions.
In addition to the court facilities, UNFPA Country Representative Mary Otieno shared several pathways and actions to address GBV prevention and response, including “One Stop Centers” supported by UNFPA and UNDP; as well as the development of a manual designed to serve as a practical resource guide tailored specifically to the context of South Sudan, for both investigators and prosecutors of GBV crimes.
“Those who shall lead this war against GBV, first and foremost, are our women leaders. We have not yet done enough to end violence against women and we still have a lot to do,” said Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Hon. Paulino Wanawilla Unango, further emphasizing the importance of the fast-track court mechanism to avoid GBV case backlog within the judiciary.
“GBV is not only a violation of the law but of basic humanity. It is part of our collective responsibility to monitor, to push for processes, and importantly, to act. UNDP will continue to stand with you as a partner as we take action on this issue,” said UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen.
The new GBV Court facilities has two specialized court halls for GBV cases and a dedicated court hall for juvenile cases.
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