Soldiers Castrated, Gouged Out eyes of Civilians - UN rights investigators

David Shearer, head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and UNMISS’ Human Rights Director Eugene Nindorera addressing a news conference in Juba

Another man described being separated from the women in his group when they were ambushed by government soldiers, only to look back and see a soldier lying on top of his wife, and being absolutely powerless to help her.

She had tried to defend her 17-year-old daughter from being raped by more than a dozen soldiers and didn't succeed.

Another witness told investigators that opposition soldiers had shot and killed his father, raped and killed his mother, and killed all of his brothers and sisters, then castrated him with a knife.

"I did not expect to be confronted with so much ritual humiliation and degradation deliberately done for multiple reasons".

United Nations investigators say they have identified more than 40 South Sudanese military officers who may be responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It will submit a confidential dossier containing those names to the Human Rights Council when it presents the report in March.

"The court could be set up straight away and the prosecutor could begin working on indictments", said commission chief Yasmin Sooka. By contrast, many ordinary South Sudanese have shown extraordinary courage and decency, caring for other people's children lost in the bush while fleeing, choosing not to take revenge when they could, and growing their own food in the refugee camps. Millions who remain at home face hunger.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 and descended into civil war in 2013, months after Kiir fired Machar as his deputy.

The new UN report is an account of the gang-rapes, castrations, ethnic violence and other abuses that have left much of the impoverished East African nation in despair, while global frustration with the warring sides grows.

The future is not looking promising either, with recent talks on power sharing in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, stalling and ongoing clashes erupting despite a ceasefire signed in December.

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Describing South Sudan's justice system as "dysfunctional" the commission called on the AU to establish the "Hybrid Court", modelled on tribunals in Sierra Leone, Cambodia and elsewhere.

While names of alleged perpetrators are being collected by the United Nations commission, they are not shared publicly to help protect witnesses who come forward.

More than 40 South Sudanese officials may have committed crimes against humanity, the United Nations has said.

The report - based on 58,000 documents and 230 witness statements - is a litany of horrors and extraordinary cruelty.

In a series of visits to South Sudan previous year, the commission collected 230 witness statements and 58,000 documents.

Amnesty has previously documented cases of sexual violence in the conflict in South Sudan, including in a report in July 2017.

Some civilians were forced to rape close family members.

"There is a clear pattern of ethnic persecution", said Clapham, "for the most part by government forces who should be pursued for crimes against humanity".

"The recommendations of these human rights reports have not been implemented in South Sudan, making them useless", Jacob Chol, senior political analyst and professor at the University of Juba, told the AP.

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