The Question of 2018: Are the kids safe in Jonglei State?

Posted: December 29, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Reech Mayen

By Samuel Reech Mayen, Juba, South Sudan

street kids

The number of homeless children in the South Sudanese capital has more than doubled since 2009

December 29, 2017 (SSB) — Kids are the flowers which beautify a community. They are the source of happiness which lights human souls. Above all, kids are the definition of a brighter future for every society. In short, they are the most valuable assets of every nation. The children across South Sudan are not exceptional. They mean what this country will look like after hundred years from now.

It’s this irrefutable belief which urged the international community to encode the principles of child protection in the variety of instruments. Echoed by every nation, the Transitional Constitution, 2011 of the Republic of South Sudan article (17) (1 – 4) inclusive provides for the Rights of the Child. In summary, it stipulates the protection and development of a child in all aspects of life.

The Child Act, 2008 put the preceding constitutional rights in nutshell. Section six (6) of the very Act literally states all decision regarding kid ought to be in their best interest. Sadly, these provisions appear to be mere ornaments which decorate our legal instruments for there are no legal modalities to enforce them.

When an armed stranger waylays a small kid of three or four years and runway with him/her, this act does not only sicken a reasonable mind but raise a question of moral and legal maturity. Even if one is not a father of the stolen child or one does not come from the same state with that kid, the wonders and worries of what will happen to a child in the hand of a wild stranger hardly ceases.

Since mid-1950s kidnappers have been enjoying loopholes created by series of wars. This lengthy era of instability has hardened these inhuman criminals who have developed into skilled kidnappers. Following 2005 Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), there was hope that brutalities including child abduction would stop. However, this hope did not materialize all through the interim period.

Worst still another war of ‘let me rule’ broke out again barely two years after independence. This blesses the kidnappers once more with another chance of anarchy. Currently, they are celebrating this era which has put the law on silent.

They are busy shedding innocent blood in one hand and pretend to be loyal to the government on the other hand. It’s both horrible and ironical to slice a child throat just to deny the biological father an opportunity of recovering his kid on one side of the coin and pretend to be law abiding citizens on the other side.

Murle kidnappers are terrorizing the communities in board daylight with the veil of impunity. If these inhuman monsters are not tamed, certainly they will cause irreconcilable and irreparable damages. Every year they abduct hundreds of kids from the Communities of Jonglei and other neighboring states. Half of the stolen kids are killed when they attempt to escape; the surrendered kids are permanently absorbed into Murle ethnicity.

Some of these children who are swallowed by these foreign untamed raiders are bartered with cattle to other fellow tribe mate with the huge number of cattle. Others are kept by those who looted them and treat them as chattels. Generally, they are absorbed and trained to be typical Murle people. As they grow up, they are prevented from going to schools with the fear that they may trace their families. The looted boys are developed into hostile kidnappers to join the team of imprudent warriors.

As the cycles of child abduction continue, the impacts on the children and community at large are immeasurable; first, the kidnapped children are denied the custody of their parents. It’s provided in The Child Act, 2008, Section 13 that “Every Child has the right to live with and be cared for by his or her parents.”

Ignorance or stubborn enough to respect this legal stipulation, Murle kidnappers abduct the kids and introduce them into the strange and wild environment. These expose the kids to psychological suffering. This is evidently indicated by the mental state of the kids who managed to escape from abductors and ran back to their communities.

Secondly, parents and other relatives of the kidnapped children suffer in the rest of their lives. A person who has not buried his or her child expects to see such a kid again. With a hope that does not yield any fruit, a parent ends up in long distress and consequently health deterioration. Many parents’ lives depreciate as a result of losing their kids to these hostile kidnappers.

Thirdly, kidnapping is compounded with killings. As it happened recently in Duk-Payueel, parents or anybody in the immediate surrounding were brutally murdered. They were mercilessly killed in the view of the children so that they would not think of returning to their village. The children who are taken over the dead bodies of their beloved ones do not come back because they see their loved ones dead and believe that they have nowhere to return to.

Fourth, kidnapping practices have resulted in mass displacement of the civilians. Except in the Murle community where the economic activities of the youth are kidnappings and cattle rustlings, the youth of their neighboring States are working, running businesses and schooling in towns. The majority of people in the villages are kids, women and elderly folks.

These groups are threatened by kidnappers’ brutalities. Subsequently, they seek refuge in the towns. This has resulted in cessation of agricultural activities, over congestion in towns, joblessness and poverty. With the poor quality of life, diseases have strolled in.

Basically, this is the situation which has been created by kidnappers who solely come from Pibor State and stream into the neighboring states. A lot has been said but nothing has changed. Honestly, there are some Murle intellectuals who do not appreciate this evil practice. Their stance is a hub of hope.  However, there are some political leaders from this community who always want to justify this horrible act. Legally, they are a pure accomplice with these kidnappers. Moreover, they are prime abettors who facilitate the acquisition of arms and ammunition.

To stop this, Murle needs to be disarmed militarily, socially and legally. They ought to be disarmed militarily by using proportional military force to ensure that guns are taken away from their possession. They need to be disarmed socially by introducing compulsory education with sufficient civic education.

These kidnappers also ought to be disarmed legally by illegalizing possession of arms in the hands of civilians. Besides, the National Legislative Assembly needs to enact “Anti – Kidnapping and Cattle Rustling Act”. This Act will narrow down the vacuum left by Penal Code Act, 2008. It will provide enough scope helpful in combating this inhuman practice.  With informed action, children can be rescued from the claws of kidnappers.

The author can be reached at mayenreech@gmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from, plus a concise biography of yourself.

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