The United States says it firmly supports the establishment of a hybrid court under the peace agreement to try suspects of atrocities during the conflict.
It expressed disappointment with a call by South Sudanese leaders for truth instead of trial.
This is in response to an article published by the New York Times newspaper on Tuesday with the byline of President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar.
According to the article, the two leaders would like the international community, particularly the US and Britain, to support a truth and reconciliation process instead of a hybrid court.
They warned that fighters suspected of atrocities in the conflict may prefer to return to war than to stand trial in a foreign country.
The two leaders say disciplinary justice would destabilize efforts to unite the nation by keeping alive anger and hatred among the people of South Sudan.
The deputy spokesman of the State Department, Mark Toner says the US expects the parties to the peace agreement to fulfill their responsibilities in the deal.
“Reconciliation and justice are not mutually exclusive, which is why the peace agreement includes both elements and why the United States will make every effort to support the formation of both as critical steps in – towards peace and reconciliation and stability in South Sudan,” said in an interview.
He said the US does not oppose a truth and reconciliation commission like that of South Africa, but it should not replace accountability.
Meanwhile, civil society groups have raised concern over the statement.
“The argument put forward in the op-ed plays into people’s fears that efforts to pursue justice pose a threat to the consolidation of peace in post-conflict societies,” the Transitional Justice WorkingGroup – an umbrella body of seven activist groups – said in a statement.
It further said that the Transitional Government should instead focus on issues that put South Sudan on the right path towards respecting humanity.
However, the office of the First Vice President says Dr Riek was not aware of the article before it was published. But Presidential Press Secretary Ateny Wek Ateny says the piece was published with the knowledge of the Presidency.
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