The ICRC was not involved in any negotiations that preceded the releases, which were initiated through a specific request by the parties to the conflict.
JUBA, South Sudan, June 28, 2019 – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has facilitated the release of 15 persons detained in relation to the conflict in South Sudan.The operation marks the second release of prisoners supervised by the ICRC since the signing of the latest peace agreement – the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) – in September 2018.
“Our role in this week’s release was to first ensure that all detainees were handed over voluntarily and that they had the opportunity to confidentially share their concerns,” said James Reynolds, the ICRC’s head of delegation in South Sudan. “We safely transported the former detainees to Juba, at their request and with the consent of both parties.”
An ICRC medical staff member was present at the release to assess the detainees’ health condition and make sure they were fit to travel. Logistically, three ICRC aircraft were involved to make this release happen.
The ICRC was not involved in any negotiations that preceded the releases, which were initiated through a specific request by the parties to the conflict. “We offered our services to all sides of the conflict and confirmed our readiness to act as a neutral facilitator for the release of detainees as requested,” said Reynolds.
The ICRC was mentioned as a neutral facilitator for the release of detainees in the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians, and Humanitarian Access that was signed between the parties in December 2017 as well as a supervisor for the release of detainees in chapter II of the R-ARCSS. In addition to this week’s release, the ICRC facilitated several release operations last year, including last October with the release of 16 persons.
The ICRC also regularly visits detainees in the places where they are being held in order to monitor their conditions and treatment. The organization works in a confidential way with those in charge of detention matters to discuss possible issues of concern related to the conditions in which detainees are held and their treatment.