By Benjamin Takpiny
JUBA, South Sudan (AA) – A missing file is blocking appeals in the 2016 Terrain Hotel attack case in Juba, capital of South Sudan, in which a local journalist was killed and at least five aid workers raped, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Legal Action Worldwide said on Friday.
The human rights groups expressed surprise that a year after the trial court convicted 10 soldiers involved in the attack, the case file including the judgment has gone missing, after it was sent to President Salva Kiir for confirmation.
“The file has not been seen since. UN officials and diplomats strongly suspect the file was lost in the office of the president. For the case to proceed on appeal, a complete record of the case is required,” the rights groups said in a joint statement.
“It is outrageous that a year after the conviction the appeals could not be heard, because of a missing case file,” said Antonia Mulvey, founder and executive director of Legal Action Worldwide.
He asked authorities to ensure there is no deliberate attempts to obstruct justice. “They must locate the file, so the Supreme Court can examine the appeal,” he said.
“The victims of this heinous attack, and their families, have suffered so much already – it’s unfathomably cruel to prolong their quest for justice,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
Last September, the rape and sexual assault survivors and the family of John Gatluak Manguet, the journalist killed in the attack, appealed against the court’s decision to award $4,000 to each of the survivors, and 51 cows to the journalist’s family.
They argued that the compensation was not proportionate to the crimes and the physical and mental trauma they have endured since the attack. The convicted soldiers also filed appeal against the conviction.
“After the compensation was awarded, I felt violated again, I felt raped again by the justice system,” said Sabrina Prioli, one of the rape survivors.