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S Sudan leaders failed to end atrocities – HRW

Author : | Published: Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Human Rights Watch has accused the government and opposition leaders of failure to end “gruesome” human rights violations, an accusation the presidential spokesperson rejects.

In its report released today, titled: “Soldiers Assume We Are Rebels’: Escalating Violence and Abuses in South Sudan’s Equatorias” – the rights group documents the spreading violence and abuses against civilians in the Greater Equatoria region in the last year.

The report focuses on two areas: Kajo-keji county in Yei River state, and Pajok in Imatong state.

“Gruesome crimes”

Human Rights Watch says it conducted research into the crimes in both states, where the vast majority of the victims have fled to refugee settlements.

“Four years into this crisis, gruesome crimes continue, with millions displaced and hundreds of thousands facing a man-made famine,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

“It’s well past time to send a strong message to those in positions of power that atrocities will come at a price.”

It called on the UN, US, EU and other states to sanction nine leaders it believes are responsible for grave violations during the conflict.

They include President Salva Kiir, the former first Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, and six military commanders from both the SPLA and opposition forces.

These include:

  • Paul Malong Awan, former army chief of general staff and governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state;

 

  • Gen. Johnson Juma Okot, formerly in charge of the army’s Division 6 troops accused of abuses in the Equatorias and now deputy ground forces commander;

 

  • Gen. Bol Akot, who was in charge of the Gudele and Mio Saba areas of Juba at the time of killings of Nuer civilians in December 2013, formerly in command of the army commandos accused of abuses in Western Equatoria, currently director of the National Police Service;

 

  • Lt Gen. Marial Nour Jok, military intelligence chief since April 2014, and the superior of officers accused of arbitrary detention, torture, and enforced disappearances in the Equatorias and Wau regions;

 

  • Gen. Attayib Gatluak “Taitai,” formerly head of Division 4 of the army, accused of abuses in the Unity region in 2015, and now in charge of Division 5, accused of abuses in Wau late 2015;

 

  • Johnson Olony, an opposition commander accused of forced recruitment of fighters, including children, in the Upper Nile region;

 

  • Gen. Matthew Puljang, who commanded army forces accused of abuses in the Unity region in 2015, accused of forced recruitment of children.

“Without President Kiir…”

However, the Press Secretary in the Office of President, Ateny Wek Ateny, says the report is biased.

“The report, like any other report that was released before by Human Rights Watch, is similar and biased as usual simply because all these reports were compiled in Uganda,” Mr Ateny told Eye Radio.

“The [people] the Human Rights Watch calls researchers only took a number of individuals [refugees] who were inside the camp.

So for them to be calling on President Salva Kiir to be listed or to be travel banned is very unreasonable demand because without President Salva Kiir, this country cannot move forward – cannot move an inch.”

The rights defender also says the UN Security Council should also impose a long overdue, comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan.

It called on the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to investigate the potential criminal responsibility of all these men, both direct and on the basis of command responsibility.

Read the full report here: “Soldiers Assume We Are Rebels’

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