Juba/Geneva (1 February 2021) – The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan welcomed today the decision by the South Sudanese Government on Friday, 29 January 2021 to proceed with the processes of establishing the Hybrid Court, and other transitional justice mechanisms to address violations committed during the conflict.
In fulfilment of outstanding obligations under the 2018 Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, the Cabinet formally requested the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to take the necessary steps for establishing (i) the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing to investigate and document patterns of human rights violations and causes of the conflict in South Sudan; (ii) the Hybrid Court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and atrocity crimes; and (iii) the Compensation and Reparation Authority that will administer a fund to provide reparation and assistance to affected victims.
“After more than two years of delay the Government has at last taken the first steps to initiate key transitional justice measures to address the legacy of gross human rights violations in South Sudan,” stated Commission Chair Yasmin Sooka. “If the Government of South Sudan is to retain any credibility whatsoever, the political rhetoric must translate into tangible, and genuine results,” she cautioned. “Most critically, the Government must complete all the processes of reconstituting the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, which is to enact the domestic legislation for establishing the three transitional justice mechanisms under the 2018 Agreement. The Commission has provided benchmarks to the Government on the speedy implementation of the commitments under Chapter V.”
A failure to adhere to the timelines of the 2018 Agreement, a particularly protracted political stalemate, delayed the formation of the new Government and the completion of key appointments, putting the establishment of the transitional justice mechanisms on hold.
“These delays have meant that the underlying causes and drivers of the conflict, including competition for resources, territorial control, and political influence, have continued to fuel localized conflicts, rampant corruption, and economic crimes in South Sudan,” stated Commissioner Andrew Clapham. Meanwhile, those responsible for war crimes and continuing human rights violations have been emboldened by a system that permits impunity for torture, enforced disappearances, and atrocity crimes,” he added.
The absence of accountability and reparation, including for sexual violence, undermines the fabric of society, breeds resentment, and defers the prospects of reconciliation and healing, while victims also continue to bear multiple burdens of physical, psychological, and socio-economic consequences of the violations, the Commission noted. The delay in establishing these institutions has robbed the people of South Sudan of the opportunity to achieve sustainable peace.
“Given the approval of the Cabinet, the Government should now take immediate steps to sign the memorandum of understanding with the African Union and adopt the draft Statute to establish the Hybrid Court,” said Commissioner Barney Afako. “It should also initiate broad-based and inclusive national consultations so that South Sudanese can contribute towards the formation of the other transitional justice processes, especially the truth commission,” he added.
The Commission further stressed that the hopes and expectations of the South Sudanese people will be raised again by the Government’s announcement, and that the Government must deliver on its obligations, including by prioritizing the provision of urgent and comprehensive reparation measures to address the harms and losses suffered by victims and communities.
“We also welcome the statement of the Chair of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki expressing his support to the Government of South Sudan and the people of South Sudan in their quest for peace and security in South Sudan”.
The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan was established by the Human Rights Council in March 2016 and extended in March 2017, and for further years in March 2018, March 2019, and June 2020, with a mandate to determine and report the facts and circumstances of, collect and preserve evidence of, and clarify responsibility for alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, with a view to ending impunity and providing accountability.
The Reconstituted Joint Monitoring & Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) is sending worrying signals of the state of affairs in South Sudan. Yes, there is peace and there are slow progress. Still, the limbo and indefinite transition period is worrying. There is implications to the slow-down process and progress from the government.
RJEMC is only dropping these assessments to show how the state is slow in authorizing changes and securing measures of new national and temporary bodies. These are put in place to ensure all stakeholders are involved and have their place n accordance with the R-ARCSS. That is clearly a hectic stance and work for the government, but the ones leading and in-charge knew this. They accepted the agreement and know the stipulations in the deal. Therefore, they should continue to implement and follow the articles, which they have signed under.
Just read these two passages from the RJEMC Report!
“The slow pace of implementation of the R-ARCSS is accompanied by a number of attendant risks and challenges. These include growing defections and intercommunal violence, which could destabilise the permanent ceasefire; insufficient resources devoted to the training and redeployment of the NUF, with the potential to derail unification; failure to complete the RTGoNU at all levels of government; and a prolonged delay in establishing the TNLA and Council of States, which could result in the inability to pass meaningful legislation critical to the success of the Agreement” (RJEMC ON THE STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REVITALISED AGREEMENT ON THE RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT IN THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN – 1st October to 31st December 2020, Published: 26.01.2021).
“With almost a year having being expended during the Transitional Period, the RTGoNU is still struggling with completion of outstanding Pre-Transitional tasks and in particular that of graduation and redeployment of the NUF, and reconstitution of the TNLA and the COS. What was originally intended to be a forty-five-day training exercise turned into a more than 14-month ordeal to date for the unification of forces. Of growing concern is the chronic shortage of food and medicines and the increasing number of forces leaving the camps in search of food” (RJEMC ON THE STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REVITALISED AGREEMENT ON THE RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT IN THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN – 1st October to 31st December 2020, Published: 26.01.2021).
We should worry about these risks, as the way the stakeholders are playing with this. It is soft measures and not making decisions. Neither holding direct talks and opening the transitional bodies. There are still not a TNLA and other bodies, which is needed for the state to continue to build a state. If the government wants the state to be procedural and a rule of law intended state. They need a legislative body and a permanent constitution, which haven’t been in place. They continuing the stalemate and that should worry.
The TGoNU haven’t acted righteous in this. The President and his cabinet should have enacted and secured the bodies to be established. Just so they could move-on from this temporary stalemate and uncertainty, as the President is so easily making decrees in favours of himself. That is why he should really start to build the state. It will cost him power, but will also make him remembered for something good. It is harder to build a state, then wage war. That is just follow human history and we all know that.
If the President and his party wants to be remembered for peace. They better start implementing the R-ARCSS in a greater speed. They are clearly causing new issues and challenges as time prolongs it. The TGoNU needs to listen to this… and they should steer the wheels ahead. It did act upon vital parts in December 2020 and it got to continue.
Yes, a prolonged transition is better than war. Everything is better than war. Let’s just have that straight. Still, the President and everyone around him needs to act like this R-ARCSS is important and actually want to make it happen. Not just prolong it and extended the temporary state. That will not create a state and government worth governing. The President knows this and they needs to create procedures and state organs that actually work. That isn’t easy, but that is the task he has in his hands. If he succeeds … then he has made it better for the next generation and he shouldn’t let that opportunity go. Peace.
Well, the first deadline of the Revitalized – Agreement for a Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ACRSS) was on the 12th May 2019. That was stipulated by the Khartoum Declaration. Clearly, this has been postponed twice already. R-ARCSS and the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) have given itself more time to implement it.
Therefore, today on the 5th January 2021. There is reports that the TGoNU plans to reign in a transitional fashion until 2023. That is giving itself 2 more years and a few more months depending on when its scheduling an election. That’s why today is a shattering day. A day where the government is ceasing its mandate and only consolidating it more.
The momentum of the agreement is dying down. The President and his allies is ruling on decrees as we speak. His appointing people and securing the ones he wants into office. The agreement is followed and various of stakeholders are getting various of positions. While the National Assembly and other institutions are not followed up. That is why the President and his FVPs can get off the hook. They are eating and enjoying the perks, but without any real accountability.
The Republic’s leadership is stalling the transition. That is clear, as they have had the time and the ability to do so. Seemingly, some of parts of agreements wouldn’t be worked upon, as the TGoNU and its allies has to give way. They have to work on the appointments and creations of a Hybrid Court. Which again could face cases and petitions of criminal behaviour. Something that might implicate parts of the current leaders and their handling’s of affairs. The same being warfare and conflicts, which haven’t always been sorted out in a peaceful manner.
The Transitional Government with another deadline and another time-laps will only fatigue the public. As they are supposed to stick by the anointed leaders, which isn’t their representatives, but previous warlords and generals. These who has created the conflicts and haven’t made proper peace. As these cannot configure or implement these agreements.
They can stand together and photo-bomb the stage. They can sign agreements when the funds are running low and get legitimacy out of it. Buying more and more time, but not fixing the core issues. Instead of institutionalize the government and create stability. The state is just supposed to accept the Presidential Decrees and the overpowering mandate of a President who never was elected. However, was the king of the liberating party and armed command at the time.
President Salva Kiir is just holding on to power. While he cannot figure out how to work with Dr. Riek Machar. The citizens are suffering, because to big-men cannot put their egos to the side and let bygones be bygones. I’m not saying its easy or not earth-shattering to drop the grievances. However, if these folks want to be remembered as statesmen in the future. They got to stick together and become a functioning duo.
The word salads of the SPLM/A, SPLM-IO, SPLM/A-IO, SSOM or Real-SPLM for that matter. The SPLM/A-IG and so forth. It is time to just stick together and build. Not postpone and keep a tab on the transition. That cannot last forever. If it lasts forever and continues to be kept this way. It isn’t temporary anymore, but a made up title just to keep power.
For some nothing is more temporary as a government reform. However, when your building and put your print on the walls. You better build well. So, that the next one taking over cannot only trust the foundation, but continue to add on it. Such in a way that the next leader can make life even better for the citizens. That should be the goal.
However, by how things looking now. The postponing of implementation or facing out the transition seems to be a game for the long-con of the ones in office. Peace.
Increasing risk of famine amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing more than 7 million people into hunger.
NEW YORK, United States of America, January 2, 2021 – The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is extremely concerned about the counties in South Sudan where an increasing risk of famine amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing more than 7 million people into hunger. Food insecurity is rising amidst massive displacement of civilians resulting from a perfect storm of crises; the effects of years of conflict, an economic crisis, recurrent flooding and COVID-19. According to the IRC’s 2021 Watchlist, the risk of famine will increase even more in 2021. With more than 60% of the South Sudanese population facing food insecurity, the IRC is calling for a scale-up in international financial support and improvements in access for food assistance for South Sudan to prevent famine.
Caroline Sekyewa, South Sudan Country Director at the IRC, said,
“People in South Sudan were already struggling to access food. This year, counties are experiencing the impact of years of conflict, and peace is still extremely fragile. Further, an economic crisis, flooding and COVID-19 is forcing more people to go hungry as they lose their livelihoods and ability to feed their families. COVID-19-induced economic downturns and drops in oil prices are constraining the new government’s ability to implement the peace deal, whose implementation is already heavily delayed. South Sudan is the tenth deadliest country for civilians in the world – though many incidents likely go unreported.”
“It is estimated that 11,000 people are experiencing famine and this is likely amongst households where recent conflict and two consecutive years of severe floods are exhausting coping capacity. Due to the combined impact of devastating floods, conflict, and worsening economic conditions, most households are not able to meet their basic food needs or are using extremely detrimental strategies to cope. Amongst the 7 million people going hungry, 1.7 million people are estimated to be battling emergency levels of hunger across 35 counties, with areas of greatest concern concentrated in Jonglei, Unity, Lakes, Warrap, and Upper Nile.”
“Going into 2021, the 2018 peace deal remains fragile and even if it holds, conflict will continue, with civilian populations and humanitarians caught in the middle. Civilians and aid workers continue to face harm. Experts recorded over 500 fatalities in “violence against civilians” incidents in the first nine months of 2020. COVID-19 threatens to exacerbate the country’s health crises, given its extremely low coping capacity. More than half of the population has no access to primary health services, which, alongside limited access to clean water, poor sanitation services and extremely low immunization rates, has left the population highly susceptible to diseases like COVID-19. IRC calls on more support and funding for people in South Sudan as food insecurity threatens lives. ”
The IRC is one of the largest aid providers in South Sudan, operating there for over 30 years and delivering emergency assistance and supporting vulnerable populations in hard-to-reach areas. Our health response includes capacity building in state clinics, training of local health workers, nutrition programs, and sanitation services. We also provide support to survivors of sexual violence and child protection services. Community leaders and government officials are trained on the importance of upholding human rights. The IRC helps empower people through cash assistance, job and livelihoods training. Learn more about the IRC’s South Sudan response.