28th November 2023
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Weak justice infrastructure to blame for impunity in S. Sudan – UN official

Authors: Emmanuel J. Akile | Lasuba Memo | Published: Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Volker Türk, UN Human Rights Commissioner. (Photo: Courtesy).

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says accountability for abuses of human rights in South Sudan remains lacking due to weak judicial infrastructure, and lack of political will.

Volker Türk made the remark during the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights meeting in Geneva on Tuesday.

Addressing the session in Geneva Switzerland, Türk appreciated the military court but said senior officials must be tried in the court to face justice.

“Accountability for violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law remains lacking in a context of impunity, absent or weak judicial infrastructure, and lack of political will,” Türk said.

“Generations of South Sudanese have endured lives of fear, extreme violence and chronic instability.”

“I urge the government to uphold its international obligations and international humanitarian and international rights law, including protecting civilians from attack and ensuring accountability for violations.”

“The world’s youngest nation stands at a cross-road but the government, with the support of the international community has the opportunity to choose the path of healing and sustainable peace.”

On his part, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs said the government is aware of such reports.

Ruben Madol said the government is committed to ending impunity but appealed to the international community for support in order to correct the human rights situation in South Sudan

“The impression that comes with this report, we also say that the government of South Sudan is very much more concerned about issues of impunity and therefore, why this why we want the international community to understand the circumstance under which the government is operating to correct the issues of human rights,” Madol said speaking in Geneva on Tuesday.

“More importantly, we want to support, and that is why we emphasized that much has been said, lamented about the human rights situation, now the international community and the government to move in an effective way to implement programs that will improve the human rights situation in South Sudan. “

During the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights meeting in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Commission for South Sudan had presented its latest annual Mandate Report to the Human Rights Council.

The report cites numerous incidents of human rights violations and attack against civilians across the country in 2022.

It says, a joint government force campaign in Tonj North County of Warap state last year inflicted violence against civilians that began after three main security organs were deployed to that area.

The operation, the report says, was in response to the death of scores of soldiers who had intervened on one side in that area in a dispute over cattle raiding.

In the same year in Mayom County of Unity state, a military operation overseen by a state governor and a senior military officer culminated in the extrajudicial killings of four men allegedly involved in the deadly attack on government forces, the UN commissioner asserted.

In Upper Nile State, the commission said, civilians were targeted by multiple armed groups with competing political agendas in a quest for territorial control.

Survivors recounted moving from village to village pursued by attackers who killed, and rape civilians based on ethnic affiliations.

According to the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, in September 2022, civilians sheltering in makeshifts camps in Upper Nile were also attacked and their food aid was looted.

It added that no responsible institutions took timely measures to protect them despite the risk of the attacks well known.

Meanwhile, a government fact-finding committee of the Leer incident formed by President Kiir last year, arrived in Unity State capital Bentiu, to probe the violence that ravaged the south of the state.

Although the government announced several special committees to investigate these four situations, only one such investigation appears to have been carried out, but neither a detailed report has been published, and nor has a related trial taken place.

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