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South Sudan: Adoption of the outcome of the UN Universal Periodic Review

Item 6 - Universal Periodic Review Outcome Adoption - HRC50

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

Mr President,

Human Rights Watch welcomes South Sudan’s decision to accept most recommendations on the protection and fulfillment of several human rights in South Sudan. We note recommendations to keep girls in school and ensure quality and affordable education for all children as well as commitments to increase public health and education budgetary allocations. We urge South Sudan to implement these and other recommendations without delay.

While South Sudan has accepted recommendations on establishment of transitional justice mechanisms which include the Commission for Truth Reconciliation and Healing, a Compensation and Reparations Authority and the Hybrid Court, it has rejected a key recommendation on adoption of the statute creating the court. This raises serious questions about South Sudan’s commitment to justice for victims of international crimes, and future atrocity prevention. We continue to call on South Sudan and the African Union to provide a credible roadmap and timeline and to demonstrate concrete commitment to the court’s creation.

We note with dismay that South Sudan has rejected recommendations on the abolition of the death penalty. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and has long called on South Sudan to ban all capital punishment. Capital punishment is unique in its cruelty and finality, and is universally plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.

Similarly worrying is South Sudan’s rejection of recommendations to become a party to the International Convention on Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. Since independence in 2011, and more-so after civil war broke out in December 2013, South Sudan’s security personnel including national security, military intelligence and police have been implicated in dozens of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions of opponents or critics of the government.  The government should effectively investigate enforced disappearances and commit to ratifying the convention.

We are also deeply concerned by South Sudan’s rejection of a call to refrain from the arbitrary detention of journalists, political opponents and human rights defenders. South Sudan has repeatedly failed to address alarming violations of free speech, assembly and association rights. We urge greater space and protection be afforded to civic actors and activity and the creation of an environment that supports free and credible elections.

We remind the Council and South Sudanese delegation that South Sudan has accepted many recommendations in previous cycles but has utterly failed to respect its own commitments to protect basic human rights. For instance South Sudan committed to creating a human rights agenda and action plan in its previous review but has yet to do so.

We urge the Council to remain seized of the human rights situation in South Sudan. Thank you.

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