South Sudan: Sentencing of soldiers for killing journalist and raping aid workers a step forward for justice

6 September 2018, 13:38 UTC

Following the conviction and sentencing of 10 South Sudanese soldiers in connection with the killing of a journalist and rape of aid workers during an attack on the Terrain Hotel in the capital Juba in July 2016, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango said:

“After much foot dragging, today’s convictions and sentences represent a first step towards ending chronic impunity in South Sudan, where both government forces and the armed opposition have committed human rights violations and crimes under international law, with complete disregard for human life.”

These convictions must lead to the crucial next step of ensuring justice for all crimes committed in the ongoing armed conflict.

“These convictions must lead to the crucial next step of ensuring justice for all crimes committed in the ongoing armed conflict, by first and foremost, setting up the much-delayed Hybrid Court for South Sudan agreed in 2015. South Sudanese leaders must keep up the momentum towards ending the climate of impunity in the country.”

Background

Soldiers stormed the Terrain Hotel in Juba on 11 July 2016, executing journalist John Gatluak Nhial, gang-raping foreign aid workers and shooting one in the leg, beating up others, and looting property.

Of the 11 soldiers charged, two were found guilty of involvement in the murder of Gatluak and sentenced to life in prison; three others were found guilty of raping the aid workers, four of sexual harassment, and one was found guilty of theft and armed robbery. They have been sentenced to between seven and 14 years in jail.

One of the soldiers was acquitted for lack of evidence, while another died in jail during the trial.