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UN rights body should renew South Sudan accountability mandate

HRW Statement - Item 4 ID with Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan - HRC49

Delegates sit at the opening of the 41th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 24, 2019. © 2019 Magali Girardin/Keystone via AP

Thank you, Mr. President,

South Sudan is experiencing multiple rights crises that necessitate continued scrutiny by the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

Civilians continue to bear the brunt of violence by armed groups.

In February, tens of thousands of civilians were displaced from their homes following fighting between opposing factions of the SPLA/IO, government forces and affiliated militias in Kock and Mayendiit counties of Unity state. Human Rights Watch has received reports of looting of humanitarian sites, burning of civilian property, and allegations of many rapes.

Sporadic clashes between government forces and the National Salvation Front in Yei and Lainya areas have led to killings and other abuses against civilians.

Impunity for serious crimes is the norm.

The UN Mission in South Sudan reported in February that government forces and SPLA/IO warring groups in mid- late 2021 committed sexual violence, recruited children into their forces, looted civilian and humanitarian property, amongst other abuses in Tambura, Western Equatoria. Despite senior military and political actors within the Revitalized Government being named as implicated in the violence, no concrete action to hold them to account has been taken.

Rights challenges remain daunting. Relentless cycles of intercommunal violence in Jonglei, Lakes, Warrap, the disputed Abyei region and Unity State, have created an environment of fear and uncertainty for citizens. The government has continued a brutal assault on fundamental freedoms targeting journalists, rights defenders and opposing voices for harassment as well as arbitrary arrest and detention, and limiting civic space for all public and political actors.

The Government has yet to establishment the hybrid court, and other transitional justice mechanisms.

South Sudan has also projected elections for 2023. In the current polarized political environment, there remains a real threat of further violence.

In this context, it is critical that the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan is renewed in full and concerted efforts made, to ensure that the commission’s recommendations are implemented. Until the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, the commission’s mandate to collect and preserve evidence of crimes, is unique and vital to lay the groundwork for future accountability.

We urge the Council not to let the people of South Sudan down.

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