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Commission on Human Rights Urges South Sudan to make peace and justice a reality (18.09.2018)

South Sudanese civilians continue to live in complete insecurity as the violence is ongoing, arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of the National Security Service are on the rise, some 6 million people – around 60 per cent of the population — live under “emergency” food insecurity and humanitarian assistance convoys are routinely attacked.

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 18, 2018 -The Commissionto use the opportunity created by the renewal of the peace agreement to ensure justice and accountability for the victims of the many crimes committed against its population.

While welcoming in its oral update before the Human Rights Council the “Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan” signed on 12 September, the Commission expressed doubts that the peace deal would endure as deadly fighting between opposing parties and attacks on United Nations peacekeepers had resumed less than 24 hours later.

South Sudanese civilians continue to live in complete insecurity as the violence is ongoing, arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of the National Security Service are on the rise, some 6 million people – around  60 per cent of  the population — live under “emergency” food insecurity and humanitarian assistance convoys are routinely attacked.

The many victims of the five-year conflict need justice if communities are to heal and rebuild the fabric of their society. The ongoing sexual violence against women and girls in South Sudan is pervasive and requires a sustained commitment to holding perpetrators accountable and addressing impunity.

“South Sudan is at war with its citizens and currently stands at the crossroads between hope and peace, on the one hand, and more missed opportunities, on the other hand,” said the Commission’s Chairperson Yasmin Sooka.  “Sustainable peace requires justice and accountability for serious crimes”

Timeline

The Commission in particular urged the African Union and the Government of South Sudan to agree on a timeline to fast-track the long-awaited Hybrid Court for South Sudan, the Commission on Truth, Healing and Reconciliation and the Compensation and Reparations Authority, all set out in Chapter V of the Peace Agreement to render justice and facilitate national reconciliation.

“Six months later, we are still waiting for this signature [by the President of South Sudan or his foreign Minister], which is required by the African Union to set up this court,” stressed Ms. Sooka.

The Commission, which includes two other international human rights law experts Andrew Clapham and Barney Afako, was mandated by the Council to monitor and report on violations, establish their circumstances, identify perpetrators and collect and preserve evidence that could be used to try perpetrators of serious crime. It recently visited South Sudan to meet with senior government officials, UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), humanitarian workers, civil society, the religious communities, as well as internally displaced persons. It also visited refugee camps in Eastern Darfur in Sudan, Arua in Uganda and Kakuma in Kenya, to talk with refugees from South Sudan as well as representatives of the opposition parties. The Commission is due to submit its report to the Human Rights Council in March 2019.

New attacks

Just hours after the revitalized peace agreement, government forces (SPLA) were alleged to have attacked Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) forces in Yei River State, South of Juba, resulting in the deaths of 17 members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Moreover, two days ago, on 15 September, a SPLA soldier shot in the leg a UN peacekeeper in Yei about 1.4 km from a UNMISS base. Yei town experienced heavy shooting throughout the night, prompting the UNMISS to put it on security alert.

South Sudan is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for humanitarian workers, with more than 13 aid workers killed this year alone.  In April, 10 aid workers were abducted and a UN peacekeeper killed in an ambush targeting a humanitarian convoy. In Wau, between June and late August, access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance was denied “for security reasons”, the Commission’s Chair noted.

Despite the stated commitment of the Government of South Sudan to address sexual violence, little has been done. According to a 2017 study by the Global Women’s Institute and the International Rescue Committee more than 65 per cent of women and girls in South Sudan have reportedly experienced physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lives. Women in South Sudan have been treated by government soldiers and armed actors to the conflict including local militias as spoils of the conflict. They also experience sexual violence during inter-communal violence between rival ethnic groups clashing over land and cattle and live with the threat of sexual violence on a daily basis which is fuelled by the lack of accountability and justice for these crimes.

And yet the Commission noted that, under pressure by the international community, the Government of South Sudan could muster the political will to combat impunity, as evidenced by the recent judgment in the Terrain Case, in which a Military Tribunal handed down jail sentences to ten soldiers for murder, rape, sexual harassment, theft and armed robbery.

Terrain case

While the victims in the Terrain case have welcomed the verdict, they have expressed their disappointment that only the foot soldiers were prosecuted while those with command responsibility have gone unpunished.

The Commission recalled that UNMISS in 2017 investigated and documented that more than 217 South Sudanese women were gang raped by government security forces including at SPLA checkpoints in Juba in the same cycle of violence of July 2016. To date, none of the perpetrators have been held accountable and nor have any of these women received any compensation from the government.

“The plight and suffering of South Sudanese women and girls can no longer be ignored; they urgently deserve justice, compensation and medical and trauma support services. The Terrain trial verdict should not be the exception, but the rule in South Sudan from now on,” declared Ms. Sooka.

Unaccompanied minors

The appalling living conditions have displaced 1.7 million people inside South Sudan. Another 2.5 million South Sudanese have fled the country, including more than 65,600 unaccompanied minors who crossed the border into neighbouring countries since the outbreak of South Sudan’s civil war in 2013, according to UNCHR.

Amongst the refugee population are a number of unaccompanied minors — 65,600 of them according to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) — who crossed the border into neighboring countries since the outbreak of South Sudan’s civil war in 2013. These unaccompanied minors are vulnerable to child-soldier recruitment, sexual abuse and exploitation, child labour, drug abuse, criminality, and poverty. They experience intense anxiety and trauma due to separation; they do not know where their family members are, or whether they are alive or dead; in addition they are left to fend for themselves.  UNHCR, UNICEF and the ICRC are doing incredible work in dealing with unaccompanied minors. UNHCR ought to have more resources to carry out their work, declared the Commission.

Given the acute levels of food insecurity in the country, the Government of South Sudan would be expected  to do its utmost to facilitate unimpeded access to UNMISS and humanitarian organizations. Instead the authorities resort to constant bureaucratic stalling which denies access and more alarmingly. Targeted attacks against humanitarian convoys together with these obstructions make it almost impossible to deliver emergency relief.

Death penalty

Finally, the Commission deplored that the Government of South Sudan has not abolished the death penalty or put in place a moratorium on executions despite calls from civil society and the international community to do so, with three executions taking place in May alone this year. A further 40 death-row prisoners have been transferred from state and county prisons to Wau and Juba central prisons, which are the only prisons equipped with execution chambers.  The Commission said it feared that the next few months could see many more executions among the 345 death-row prisoners detained across the country.

 

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UNHCR calls on South Sudan parties to deliver a lasting peace (17.09.2018)

UNHCR reiterates its call that all parties fully implement and uphold the deal for South Sudan to maintain a sustainable and permanent peace.

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 17, 2018 – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement on 13 September in Addis Ababa between the South Sudan warring parties. This is a crucial milestone towards permanent ceasefire and lasting peace for millions of war beleaguered South Sudanese.

UNHCR reiterates its call that all parties fully implement and uphold the deal for South Sudan to maintain a sustainable and permanent peace.

UNHCR stands ready to support all parties who genuinely strive to achieve an inclusive peace process, which includes a provision in the signed accord requiring the agreement be disseminated to the 2.5 million South Sudanese living in exile across six countries.

“The peace process must include the voices of refugees and those displaced inside of South Sudan to bring an end to more than five years of senseless suffering” said Arnauld Akodjenou , UNHCR Special Adviser on the South Sudan situation. “It’s important that refugees participate, understand and support the peace agreement for it to be fully effective.”

Representatives of South Sudanese refugees came face-to-face with their leaders in a meeting in Khartoum on 4th September, pressing upon their demands for inclusion in peace building efforts.

South Sudan continues to generate the largest refugee crisis on the African continent. The credibility of the unfolding peace process rests on its ability to end nearly five years of violence and suffering for the people of South Sudan, and to meet the aspirations of over four million mostly women and children forcibly displaced by the conflict.

South Sudan Civil Society Forum – Press Release (17.09.2018)

South Sudan: Statement by H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit on the Singning of the final Peace Agreement (15.09.2018)

South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA): Press Statement (16.09.2018)

South Sudan: Kiir and Museveni celebrated the fresh peace-deal with flying in 1300 trained snipers(!!)

There are something special, that there are signing of the revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan of 2018, as the failure of the 2015 agreement are lingering. As the South Sudanese stakeholders has fought in-between them since June 2016.

What is significant is that the Ugandan counterpart has been so involved with soldiers and military equipment, as they have also involved themselves in the midst of the peace agreements. That seems like counter-punching, as Yoweri Kaguta Museveni are both bringing weapons and at the same time talking peace. Something that isn’t fitting.

While President Salva Mayardiit Kiir of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) or the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) have accepted this and used his friendship with Museveni, who has promised to help even with arms in the middle of arms embargo. Therefore, we can wonder why this news are coming, if the SPLA/M or Kiir was serious about a peace-deal, why have he hired Museveni to train snipers?

Kampala/Addis Ababa, September 15, 2018 (SSNA) — Ugandan-trained South Sudanese snipers have arrived in Juba on Saturday night, a former Ugandan intelligence officer told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) in Kampala. The new allegation comes two days after South Sudan’s warring factions signed a power-sharing deal” (…) “James further disclosed that Kiir and Museveni secretly flew the 1300 new snipers to Juba Saturday night and that the snipers are now divided into two groups strategically stationed around Juba. He also stated that new South Sudanese soldiers could soon arrive in Warrap and Buliisa district” (South Sudan News Agency – ‘1300 snipers arrive in Juba as South Sudanese celebrate peace deal’ 15.09.2018 link: http://southsudannewsagency.org/index.php/2018/09/15/1300-snipers-arrive-in-juba-as-south-sudanese-celebrate-peace-deal/).

It is a massive amount to have 1300 newly trained snipers to come as they government are celebrating the peace-deal. Seems more like they have trained new brigades to await their enemies to relent and relax their positions, before firing on all cylinders. Because, why spend fortunes and pay the Uganda People’s Defense Force for weapons training and flying them in, right after signing a new peace deal.

For me that is weird, as the trust levels should not be to get new highly trained brigades, but show prosperity for the newly created peace-agreement, as building up the measures within it. Kiir could have shown capacity and measures where he was seriously thinking of peace. As there are already reported breaches of cease-fire in Yei. Therefore, not like Kiir are progressing, more like looking for his opposition to lay low and find their weakness, while building yet another brigade. Stalling for time.

It is not a sign of confidence with 1300 newly trained snipers. That is more a sign of worry, as the UPDF and South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF), the former Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) are still active together, in both arms and training. As Museveni are participating in the mediation and sharping the knives behind closed doors.

I have never trusted the man, there was talk of 300 trained snipers, but now the total number are estimated to be 1300. That is a giant amount of highly trained killers for the government. They wouldn’t have this specialized soldiers, if they didn’t see it fit. They are clearly preparing for something, which we don’t know. Peace.

South Sudan: CTSAMM Report 2018/24 – Military Movement and Offensive Military Operations in the Wau Area – Executive Summary (26.07.2018)

South Sudan: Points of Framework Agreement (25.06.2018)

Communique of the 32nd Extra-ordinary Summit of IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government on South Sudan (21.06.2018)

South Sudan: The War-Lords wasn’t ready to speak about Peace!

In South Sudan the prolonged civil war is continuing and with the fresh dialogue between the parties didn’t help. Some had hope that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – In Government (SPLM-IG) or the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. He has been ruling and with an iron fist. While the main opposition leader and rebel Dr. Riek Machar are running the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO). There is also a coalition of other rebels and opposition, who is the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) of 8 political parties/militias, some of them are run by big men like Dr. Lam Akol (National Democratic Movement – NDM) and Gen. Thomas C. Swaka (National Salvation Front – NAS).

Therefore, the knowledge of delegations from SSOA, TGoNU and SPLM/A-IO in the IGAD High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) that has failed as even the house-arrested Machar couldn’t mend the fences or the idea of peaceful progress. That means the army and militias will continue to fight until they got supremacy.

Some people had hope as Ethiopian Government hosted this 32nd Extra-Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa and the shared arrangement to work on the “Revised Bridging Proposal” for all the stakeholders in the conflict as IGAD prepared for the dialogue this week. Still, that did not make it easier. They have the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) &Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM). All of these are interfering and monitoring the Republic. This combined with all the NGOs and Bilateral Organizations who support as well. Therefore, the international community is involved in the process. They are bookkeeping and securing needed services in the midst of the civil war, even footing the bills for it all. So the TGoNU can continue their fighting against their opposition.

This combined with various agreements that has not been kept, cease fire violations and such. These War-Lords really has no plan of quitting. They are preoccupied with the continued conflict and the looting of the Republic. There major resources being squandered away, not only seen by the Sentry in their reports, but the Kenyan bloggers are looking into the money laundering and estates owned by the War-Lords from South Sudan. Clearly, they are preoccupied with earning money on the toils and tears created by the conflict. That is why they are afraid of their future if the conflict ends. The guns are speaking their language. Even as the people are still lingering in refugee camps abroad and the Republic has no solution. The leadership isn’t hungry for peace, it is hungry to overcome its advisory.

At this point as the years lingers and the leaders continue to eat of the poverty, the famine and civil-wars, even as the state is bankrupt, creating higher bank-notes and the international community is footing the bills for development and needed supplies in refugee camps. This is clearly not the intention. But that is the sad reality as the innocent are dying and is afraid. The own leadership are holding this on. They are violating agreements or stifling it. If they are not getting their way, they are picking up guns or sending tanks to their yards. That is what happen in 2016, when the 2015 Agreement was starting to be established. However, that only lasted months before the new fresh conflict we are seeing today. Since then, there has been more deflections and more creations of new outfits who wants both Machar and Kiir to step down. However, none of them seems to fit the bill.

The state of affairs is sad. The people deserve peace, but War-Lords are busy finding ways to outsmart the enemies. Instead of dialogue and building real bridges, they are instead blowing them up hoping no-one finds out.

The people of South Sudan deserves better, but the leadership is busy killing each other and trying only to use ammunition to do so. They are not interested in talking. They know the trigger and is ready to aim. Peace.

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