In early January 2017, fighting in and around Yambio in Western Equatoria resulted in a further displacement of at least 7,000 civilians, mostly women and children.
GENEVA, Switzerland, January 16, 2017 -A UN report published today details the grave human rights violations and abuses – including killings and gang rapes – as well as serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Juba during and after the fighting that occurred between 8 and 12 July 2016. Six months after the violence there remains widespread impunity, as violations continue unabated.
The report by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office found that throughout the fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), “the belligerents blatantly ignored international human rights law and humanitarian law.”
The July 2016 events in Juba demonstrated the extremely fragile political and security situation in South Sudan and the complete disregard of civilians by the SPLA and SPLM/A-IO, given the serious human rights violations and abuses that were perpetrated, including the direct targeting of civilians, along ethnic lines and the extreme violence against women and children, the report states.
“Information documented and verified by the Human Rights Division suggests that hundreds of people including civilians were killed and many more wounded during the fighting in various areas of Juba,” the report states. “Moreover, UNMISS documented 217 victims of rape, including gang-rape committed by SPLA, SPLM/A-IO and other armed groups during and after the fighting between 8 and 25 July. According to victims’ testimonies and witnesses’ accounts, most cases of sexual violence were committed by SPLA soldiers, police officers and members of the National Security Services (NSS).”
Testimony from victims interviewed by the Human Rights Division paints a horrifying picture of the violence that civilians were subjected to during the fighting. On one occasion, women and girls were ordered to cook for the soldiers at checkpoints when their friends or family members were raped. According to other testimony, Nuer men and women appeared to have been particularly targeted for attacks, including killings and arrests, during house-to-house searches, with Nuers with tribal markings on their foreheads particularly vulnerable. The whereabouts of some of those arrested remain unknown.
“The fighting that erupted in July 2016 was a serious setback for peace in South Sudan and showed just how volatile the situation in the country is, with civilians living under the risk of mass atrocities,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.
“In total, a staggering 1.38 million South Sudanese have fled to other countries and another 1.8 million are displaced in their own country. In the absence of any semblance of justice and accountability for the violations perpetrated – including possible war crimes – such unbridled outbursts of violence could quickly escalate civilians will continue to suffer immensely. Concrete steps to halt this downward spiral must be urgently taken, beginning with justice and accountability.”
The report emphasizes the need for accountability and justice for all human rights violations. It urges the Transitional Government of National Unity to take action to “break the cycle of violence and impunity” and take steps to fully support the prompt establishment and operationalization of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan by the African Union. The report also recommends that the State ensure that all victims of human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law, have access to an effective remedy, just and fair reparation, including compensation and rehabilitation.
The human rights situation remains grave in South Sudan. In Greater Equatoria, the UN Human Rights Office has received credible reports of serious human rights violations and abuses committed by SPLA and SPLM/A-IO in and around Yei, including killings, sexual violence, abductions and destruction of civilian property. As a result, thousands of civilians have fled Yei and surrounding towns. They have sought refuge in other regions and in neighboring countries. In early January 2017, fighting in and around Yambio in Western Equatoria resulted in a further displacement of at least 7,000 civilians, mostly women and children.
High Commissioner Zeid reminded the Government of its obligation to protect the rights of all South Sudanese and bring to an end the desperate suffering of the people.
“It may be recalled that the United Nations Security Council in its Resolution 2304 decided that UNMISS force levels should be increased to a ceiling of 17,000 troops, including 4,000 for a Regional Protection Force”.
NEW YORK, United States of America, January 16, 2017 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has confirmed that it continues its discussions with the transitional national unity Government on a 4,000-strong regional protection force, which was authorized by the Security Council last August but has yet to be deployed.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) “confirms that in preparation for the arrival of the Regional Protection Force, it continues to be engaged in discussions with the Transitional Government of National Unity as to the various modalities for the new Force, including where they will be deployed in Juba,” said a statement issued by the Mission’s Office of the Spokesperson. The confirmation followed various media reports, including those suggesting that the Government may have changed its position on the deployment of the Force.
The Mission’s attention has been drawn to recent statements reported in the media concerning the deployment of the Regional Protection Force, said the spokesperson’s statement.
“It may be recalled that the United Nations Security Council in its Resolution 2304 decided that UNMISS force levels should be increased to a ceiling of 17,000 troops, including 4,000 for a Regional Protection Force. This was reaffirmed by the Security Council in its recent Resolution 2327, renewing the United Nations Mission in South Sudan for one year,” the spokesperson’s statement added.
Further in the statement, the Mission noted that the Transitional Government of National Unity confirmed its “unconditional” consent to the deployment of the Regional Protection Force by communique to the Security Council on 30 November 2016, and in renewing the UNMISS mandate, including the deployment of the Regional Protection Force, the Council reaffirmed that the security situation in South Sudan remains fragile, with serious consequences for the civilian population.
In early July last year, close to the fifth anniversary of the country’s independence, the youngest nation was plunged into fresh violence due to clashes between rival forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), loyal to President Salva Kiir, and the SPLA in Opposition, backing former First Vice-President Riek Machar. That led to deaths and injuries, including many civilians and several UNMISS peacekeepers, jeopardizing the peace agreement between the political rivals in August 2015, which formally ended their differences.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s attention has been drawn to recent statements reported in the media concerning the deployment of the Regional Protection Force. It may be recalled that the United Nations Security Council in its Resolution 2304 decided that UNMISS force levels should be increased to a ceiling of 17,000 troops, including 4,000 for a Regional Protection Force. This was reaffirmed by the Security Council in its recent Resolution 2327, renewing the United Nations Mission in South Sudan for one year.
The Mission notes that the Transitional Government of National Unity confirmed its “unconditional” consent to the deployment of the Regional Protection Force by communique to the Security Council on 30 November 2016. In renewing the UNMISS mandate, including the deployment of the Regional Protection Force, the Security Council reaffirmed its determination that the security situation in South Sudan remains fragile, with serious consequences for the civilian population in South Sudan.
The Mission confirms that in preparation for the arrival of the Regional Protection Force, it continues to be engaged in discussions with the Transitional Government of National Unity as to the various modalities for the new Force, including where they will be deployed in Juba.
The MoU will be extended for another six months, from 1 January to 30 June 2017.
KHARTOUM, Sudan, January 6, 2017 – The Joint Technical Committee (JTC) on Passage of Humanitarian Assistance from Sudan to South Sudan – comprised of representatives of the Governments of South Sudan, Sudan and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – is pleased to announce the extension of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will allow for the continued movement of food assistance through Sudan to South Sudan.
The MoU will be extended for another six months, from 1 January to 30 June 2017. The JTC is confident that an extension of the MoU will further contribute to ongoing efforts to prevent hunger among the food-insecure and conflict-affected people in South Sudan, particularly those living in the border state of Upper Nile.
First signed in 2014, the MoU has enabled WFP Sudan to deliver 54,420 metric tons of emergency and nutrition assistance to over 200,000 South Sudanese in Upper Nile state. From January to November 2016, WFP transported 28,626 metric tons of emergency food assistance using 26 convoys through the Sudan corridor.
With this six-month extension, WFP will be able to deliver food to more than 50,000 South Sudanese in food-insecure areas of South Sudan. A portion of the food will be purchased locally in Sudan, supporting Sudanese farmers.
The JTC also commends the close coordination and collaboration between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan at all levels. This has enabled the JTC to set up mechanisms that minimized delays and reduce the time needed to obtain customs clearance.
A group of United Nations human rights experts today called on the Sudanese authorities to drop charges carrying the death sentence brought against six people linked to a prominent Khartoum-based organisation, Training and Human Development (TRACKS).
GENEVA, Switzerland, August 31, 2016 -A group of United Nations human rights experts today called on the Sudanese authorities to drop charges carrying the death sentence brought against six people linked to a prominent Khartoum-based organisation, Training and Human Development (TRACKS).
The six*, who were detained some three months ago but are yet to face trial, have been charged with criminal conspiracy, undermining the constitutional system, waging war against the State, espionage, and terrorism by the Sudanese State Security Prosecution Office. All these charges carry the death penalty.
“The death penalty is an extreme form of punishment. lf used at all, it should only be imposed after a fair trial that respects the most stringent due process guarantees as stipulated in international human rights law,” said UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard. “I am seriously concerned that any trial of these six people would not uphold such principles.”
The six individuals have faced constant targeting by agents from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) over the past two years. Their offices have been raided twice, and their documents, equipment and passports confiscated. In addition, they say they have been summoned, detained and tortured several times at the NISS office, where they were questioned about the organisation’s activities.
“The charges brought against them appear to be directly linked to their work in the defence of human rights, while exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai.
“Sudan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a binding instrument, which enshrines the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association and this sentence is likely to have a chilling effect among activists and human rights defenders in Sudan,” he added.
The human rights experts have already jointly raised their concern to the Sudanese authorities about the ongoing harassment of TRACKS members and, more broadly, about the increasing targeting and prosecution of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, in Sudan for undertaking their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.
“This action is part of an increasing trend to threaten, harass, or intimidate key members of Sudanese civil society, and to curb freedoms of expression and association, which are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the Interim National Constitution of the Sudan,” said Aristide Nononsi, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, who visited the country in April 2016. Mr Nononsi had already expressed concern about this case to the relevant Sudanese authorities. ”Human rights defenders play an important role in the country, and there is an urgent need for the Government of the Sudan to allow them to carry out their activities in an open, safe and secure environment,” he stressed.
*The six facing charges are Mr. Khalafalla Mukhtar, Director of TRACKS; Ms. Arwa Elrabie, Mr. Midhat Hamadan, and Mr. Alhassan Kheiri, TRACKS’ employees; and Mr. Mustafa Adam and Ms. Raye Imany Leyla who are affiliated to the organisation.
The experts’ appeal to the Sudanese Government has been endorsed by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst.
“Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said on Monday that his country does not need foreign aid organizations. He also described the aids by the organizations as the so called remnants of food tables in America.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic): OMAR AL-BASHIR, Sudanese President
“Take your aid to needy and poor people other than us. Sudan, with its bounties, does not need you. We are the one who aid others, and it is not likely for the organizations to bring us the remnants of food tables from America and others.” Al-Bashir made the remarks while addressing a mass rally at Nyala, the capital city of South Darfur State” (New China TV, 2016).