On July 9, 2011, South Sudan will become Africa's 54th state, following the referendum in January. The people of South Sudan deserve congratulations for the peaceful conduct of the referendum provided under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end Sudan's long-running civil war.
The new Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) faces enormous challenges, with its legacy of prolonged civil war and severe underdevelopment. Sustained, long-term international assistance, donor cooperation, and investment will be needed to fulfil many basic rights. But the RoSS can and should take many immediate steps that do not depend on long-term assistance to respect, promote, and protect its people's rights.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urge the Republic of South Sudan to demonstrate its commitment to human rights by taking action in the following areas as a matter of priority:
- Ensure accountability for abuses by soldiers, police, and other security forces;
- Uphold the right to freedom of expression and association;
- Review the legality of all detentions, particularly of juveniles;
- Immediately place a moratorium on the death penalty;
- Promote and protect the rights of women and girls; and
- Ratify international human rights treaties.