GENEVA, Switzerland, March 14, 2018==The Human Rights Council this afternoon (March 13, 2018) held an interactive dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.
Presenting the report, Yasmin Sooka, Chair of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, drew the Council’s attention to a staggering 2.4 million children who were displaced from their homes in South Sudan. The conflict had spread to almost all of South Sudan. Ms. Sooka noted that the Peace Agreement had stipulated the need for the establishment of a Hybrid Court for South Sudan straight away by the Government through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union. If that did not happen, the African Union had the authority to set up a Hybrid Court, outside the country if necessary, to try alleged perpetrators for South Sudan. However, the Commission was acutely aware that a Hybrid Court could not deal with the staggering number of violations in South Sudan, and that the impunity gap should be filled by the Truth Commission which should have already been established.
Paulino Wanawilla Unango, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of South Sudan, said the report was full of repetitions and flaws. There was an improvement in the human rights situation, through national dialogue, the Technical Committee for the Establishment of Truth and Healing, and the reformation and training of officers in human rights and international and domestic law. Since 2011, over 2,000 children had been identified, screened and released from armed groups. It was not true that there was impunity – over 200 cases had already been examined for violations while on duty.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers strongly condemned the widespread violence which continued in total impunity in the last few months, which violated international humanitarian law, and which could constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. They said the downward spiral must halt and urged the Government to establish a Truth and Reparations Commission, to speed up the other transitional justice mechanisms, and to ensure that perpetrators of crimes were brought to justice. The culture of impunity among political and military leaders could no longer be tolerated, they said. While some called on the African Union to establish the Hybrid Court outside of the territory of South Sudan, others called upon the Government of South Sudan to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Hybrid Court within South Sudan. Speakers called on the Government to ensure continued and unhindered access to humanitarian aid. Others believed that a political solution was the only way out of the South Sudan problem, and encouraged the international community to sustain its synergies in this direction and to assist with the economic and humanitarian situation in the country. They called upon all parties to genuinely implement the peace agreement.
Speaking were European Union, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, United States, Australia, France, China, Albania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Botswana, Sudan, Eritrea, United Kingdom, Ireland, Kenya, Norway, Mozambique and Algeria.
The following civil society organizations also spoke: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Article 19 – The International Centre against Censorship, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme.
The Council has a full day of meetings scheduled today. It will next hold an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi.