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South Sudan “regrets” UN’s naming of officials for atrocities

Author: Chany Ninrew | Published: Tuesday, April 4, 2023

FILE PHOTO: The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Dau Deng during the launch of Japanese-funded Water Treatment plant in Juba- Credit: Moses Awan/Eye Radio - March 16, 2023

South Sudan government says it regrets the UN Rights Commission’s report which names three officials in alleged perpetration of atrocities against civilians in Unity State and other parts of the country.

The UN Human Rights Commission in South Sudan on Monday said top government officials in South Sudan have committed human rights abuse against civilians.

The investigation warrants criminal investigation and prosecution against the government officials and military leaders.

Those named are Dr. Joseph Nguen Monytuil, the governor of Unity State, Lt. Gen. Thoi Chany Reat, the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces for Administration, Personnel and Finance of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces.

They are accused of having a hand in the extrajudicial killings in Mayom County in August 2022.

The report also named Koch County Commissioner Gordon Koang, who was accused of leading horrific attacks on civilians in neighboring Leer County between February and April 2022.

Reacting to the report, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Deng Dau Deng rejected the finding of the panel – describing it as unsubstantiated and an intimidation on the government.

He said the commission is uncooperative with the government and interfering in its national affairs.

“Well, first and foremost we would like to regret that they have just gone that way – just to mention names. Can they tell us where they got those details?” he said.

He said the government has already instituted two separate committees on the Mayendit, Leer and Koch incident.

“They have now finished their investigation and I don’t want to talk about it because it will prejudice the report. On report of Mayom, separate committee was also instituted and led by one of our judges and to our surprise, this is an intimidation, and you know it cannot work like that.”

“You cannot just predetermine that it was so and so. The government of South Sudan is very committed to ensure that the human rights of our citizens are protected.”

Dau said the panel backed by the UN, to which South Sudan is a member state – is biased.

“We have always said that the human rights commission are not fair, because when that happened, it was not only one side, but we also have the so-called non-state actors: the hold out groups.

“They come and attack and later claim it by themselves that they are the one who carried out the attack. So, this is an intimidation, and the government will never accept this.”

When asked whether the government will renew the mandate of the UN Human Rights Commission in the country, Deng said they will discuss about it.

“Well, we will discuss this because UN Human Rights are not cooperating with the government. We have opened up to all of them, yet we are not seeing any positive thing that the UN rights is doing.

“So, we will again get some guidance from the Minister of Justice because we are implementing the agreement.

The commission, which conducted a year-long investigation across six states in South Sudan and released a partial summary of its findings in March, said none of those named in the final report had faced any accountability for their crimes.

Four captured opposition officers were summarily executed by government troops in killings that were captured on video and shared widely, according to the report.

Three were killed by firing squad and a fourth was burned alive in a hut.

“Over several years, our findings have consistently shown that impunity for serious crimes is a central driver of violence and misery faced by civilians in South Sudan,” commission chair Yasmin Sooka said.

“So, we have taken the step of naming more of the individuals who warrant criminal investigation and prosecution for their role in gross human rights violations.”

Other top-ranking officials in Warrap, Upper Nile, Jonglei and the Equatoria states were identified as warranting further scrutiny or investigation for their role in various abuses.

“The Commission found that while the Government of South Sudan has announced special investigation committees into several situations, not one has led to any form of accountability,” the panel said in a statement.

“Government and military personnel implicated in these serious crimes remain in office.”

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