South Sudanese government and opposition soldiers “blatantly ignored” international law during clashes in July that killed hundreds of people, according to a United Nations human rights investigation.
The South Sudanese military swarmed throughout the capital with house-to-house searches and used language tests to identify civilians from different tribes, at times executing them on the spot, said the investigation by the U.N. Human Rights Office and the U.N. mission in South Sudan.
The report detailed how government soldiers targeted civilians sheltering in U.N. displacement camps, describing one case in which soldiers executed two men trying to reach safety and another where 28 women, including 12 girls, were raped by soldiers near the camps. The U.N. findings back up earlier reporting by The Associated Press of human rights abuses in South Sudan.
The clashes began on July 8th after soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir fought forces loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar, who fled the capital on July 11th.
From the time fighting started until July 25th, the U.N. recorded 217 victims of sexual violence by government soldiers, police officers, or national security members. In one instance, “women and girls were ordered to cook for the soldiers at checkpoints when their friends or family members were raped,” the investigation said.
A spokesman for South Sudan’s military, Santo Domic Chol, said he could not comment on the report because had not read it.
South Sudan’s government has not followed through on promises to fully investigate crimes committed during the conflict, according to the report.
The July fighting set off further clashes throughout South Sudan. Recently the U.N. warned that South Sudan is experiencing ethnic cleansing and is at risk of genocide. South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013, and has killed tens of thousands of people.