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Over 300 South Sudan child soldiers freed by rebels.

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Bakhita was only 12 years old when rebels snatched her from her family’s farm, adding her to a grim list of almost 19,000 children that the United Nations says have been recruited, often by force, by armed groups in South Sudan’s brutal civil war.

“I was thinking of my family every day. Sometimes, I cried but I couldn’t escape, the soldiers were everywhere in the bushes,” Bakhita told Reuters in a soft voice from the western town of Yambio, where she was among hundreds of children handed over to the U.N. on Wednesday.

She had been with the rebels two years, she said.

There’s no house. We sleep in a tent. Sometimes at night, some soldiers come to my place and want to rape me by force. If I resist, they will beat me and make me cook for a week as a punishment for refusing to sleep with them,” the 14-year-old said, beginning to cry.

More than 300 children, 87 of them girls, were released by armed groups in Wednesday’s ceremony – the start of a process which the U.N. says is expected to see at least 700 children freed in the coming weeks.

But militias are recruiting children faster than humanitarians can free them.

Many, like Bakhita, are kidnapped at gunpoint. Others choose to join, lured by food and protection in a country whose economy has been wrecked by conflict and hyperinflation. Pockets of the nation plunged into famine last year.

“I didn’t kill. My commander was nice to me. I was given a gun to protect myself and people around me,” said Henry, a short 16-year-old rebel recruit with unkempt hair who wore battered open-toe sandals.

But even his hurried interview hinted at underlying trauma.

“The sound of the gun has affected my brain, I need something to help my brain recover,” he said hesitantly.

Oil-rich South Sudan became the world’s youngest nation when it won independence from Sudan in 2011. Civil war broke out two years later, eventually forcing a third of the 12-million strong population to flee their homes.

The conflict has spawned ethnic killings. Many top military chiefs are Dinka, the same ethnic group as President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and many rebels are Nuer, the ethnic group of former vice president Riek Machar. Many smaller groups have carved out territory controlled by their own militias. Gang rapes and attacks on civilians are common.

Mahimbo Mdoe, the representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund in South Sudan (UNICEF), said the mass release of children was the biggest in three years.

“It is vital that negotiations continue so there are many more days like this,” he said in a statement.

Most of the children were released by the South Sudan National Liberation Movement, a rebel group that signed a peace agreement with the government in 2016. Nearly 100 children were released from the ranks of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), the biggest rebel group, which is led by Machar.

Some had previously escaped and been reunited with their families, but had not been able to get any support.

UNICEF plans to provide the children with civilian clothes, counselling, food assistance and vocational training as it tries to reunite them with their families. Those whose families can’t be traced will be taken to care facilities.

Among those facing an uncertain future is 17-year-old Justin, who become a bodyguard for a senior commander, after rebel forces attacked his home village in Zahra, near Yambio, in 2017. Justin said he burned his army uniforms to help erase traumatic memories.

“A lot of bad things happened when I was in the bush. If you don’t go and steal, you wouldn’t have something to eat, when the government force attacked us, we would be on the run the whole day fighting with nothing to eat,” he said. “I don’t have clothes to wear, even this shoes, I stole them from someone.”

“I am the only one left. My mother died and my father went to Bentiu but he didn‘t come back. I am only hearing he was killed in the war because he’s a soldier. I don’t want to work in the army (militia) anymore.”

Crime

Kenyan Bishop Bags 75 Years Jail Term For Defiling Three Girls

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A bishop accused of defiling three girls he was living with at an orphanage, infecting one of them with HIV has now sentenced to 75 years in prison.



Kisumu Resident Magistrate Pauline Mbulika found him guilty of three counts of defilement and deliberate transmission of HIV.

Joseph Agutu had promised to sponsor the minors before he started defiling them.

Agutu who hid his face from the cameras as police escorted him out of the solitary cell to Kodiaga Maximum Prison, had maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.

He was charged with committing the crime against the girls between April and July 2016. One of the girls is aged 14 while two are 15 years old.

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The court heard that the accused intentionally committed the crime and deliberately infected one of the minors with HIV.

The accused also reportedly touched the girls inappropriately on various dates between April and July 12, 2016. In addition, Agutu also faced an alternative charge of touching the private parts of the minors.

Four prosecution witnesses pointed an accusing finger to the Bishop with the minors recounting the sexual encounters that the man subjected them to.

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One of the minors who is an orphan painfully narrated to the court how the bishop lured her and her grandmother to the trap.

“My grandmother brought me to him and he promised to sponsor my education. My grandmother went back home and left me with him at the church,” said the minor.

After a while, she told the court, the bishop defiled her and called the other girl and defiled them too as she slept on the floor. She said they were crying throughout the ordeal.

The court heard that the following morning the bishop refused to allow them to go to school but instead ordered them to go to church.

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Crime

Sex in car in Nigeria public places not a crime – NPF

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The Nigeria Police has stated that having sex in a car in public places is not a crime.




The force through ACP Abayomi Shogunle who is in charge of Nigeria Police Public Complaint Response Unit (PPCRU) stated this on his official Twitter page.

According to Abayomi Shogunle, having sex in a car in a public place is not a crime.

He, however, stated conditions where the parties can be arrested for having sex in public place.

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He wrote: “NO. Sex in a car in a public place is not a crime in Nigeria provided; 1. Location is not a place of worship.

2. Parties are 18 yrs+

3. The act is consensual (agreed to by parties)

4. Parties are of the opposite sex if threatened with an arrest over above, please contact the police.”

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