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Archive for the tag “Violence”

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.

UNAMID calls for improved access to conflict-affected parts of East Jebel Marra (29.08.2018)

During the visit, Mr. Mamabolo and his delegation met the Deputy Wali of South Darfur, Mr. Taha Abdallah Hamid, the Commissioner of Mershing Locality, Dr. Al Sadig Mohamed Khamis and the State Security Committee.

EL FASHER, Sudan, August 29, 2018 –  UNAMID Joint Special Representative (JSR), Jeremiah Mamabolo, has concluded a two-day visit to South Darfur, during which he met leaders at the state and local levels and discussed access challenges affecting the Mission’s operations in parts of East Jebel Marra.

During the visit, Mr. Mamabolo and his delegation met the Deputy Wali of South Darfur, Mr. Taha Abdallah Hamid, the Commissioner of Mershing Locality, Dr. Al Sadig Mohamed Khamis and the State Security Committee.

He apprised them of UNAMID’s on-going reconfiguration process and the two-pronged approach to peacekeeping and peacebuilding that the Mission is currently implementing across Darfur.

Mr. Mamabolo also raised the issue of recurrent access denials to East Jebel Marra. He took the opportunity to remind Sudanese officials that UN Security Council Resolution 2429 (2018) obligates the Government of Sudan to facilitate access, thus enabling UNAMID to carry out its mandate of protecting civilians.

Mr. Mamabolo also visited UNAMID’s team site in Menawashei, Mershing Locality. Out of 14 access denials reported by UNAMID patrol teams across Darfur since July 2018, seven were recorded in Menawashei.

“I will continue to engage the state and local authorities on this issue and, in parallel, raise my concern with the authorities in Khartoum,” Mr. Mamabolo said.

The JSR was accompanied by senior UNAMID officials, including the Force Commander, Chief Security Adviser and the Head of the Joint Operations Centre.

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

Not a shocker: Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir plans to stay in power, indefinably!

Not be shocked, the guy who has ruled Sudan since 30th June 1989, the man who now has been in power in total of 10,634 days or 29 years, 1 month and 12 days to exact. That is the amount of time that Omar Al-Bashir have been in power in Sudan. This is because of his use of power, petroleum money and use of force. He has used ethnic battles and also tried to destroy groups in Darfur, the Blue Nile, South Kordofan and also in South Sudan. He has seen people die and used soldiers against his own people. The steady warfare is the reason for the internally displaced people in South Sudan and in Sudan, even refugees in Chad and in other nations as a result. There isn’t without reasons that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has a warrant for him, but the dictator-club of African Union are usually letting that one slide. Not following the Rome Statute, that is why he is not fearing criss-crossing the continent to visit fellow weapons-brothers.

I will first show the newest fresh release, that the guy taking power with a coup in 1989. That his “party” has renewed and allowed to him continue to rule. Secondly, a small extract from the article describing the coup, before showing his charge. As you can get a feeling of who this President is, and this isn’t all the horror stories from Dafur or South Sudan.

New terms for Al-Bashir:

Khartoum, Aug. 10 (SUNA) – The National Shura Council of the National Congress Thursday evening approved amendments in its basic statute and amended article (36) of those who assume organizational tasks. According to this amendment, the National Shura Council has approved Field Marshal Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir as its candidate for the position of the President of the Republic in the elections of the year 2020 and directed the concerned organs to adopt the required procedure for implementing this decision” (Sudan News Agency – ‘ National Congress Approves Omer Al-Bashir as its Candidate for 2020’ Elections’, 10.08.2018).

Al-Bashirs’ coup of 1989:

The leader of the coup, a little-known officer identified as Brig. Omar Hassam Ahmed al-Bashir, announced on the official Omdurman radio that a new Revolutionary Council would rule the Sudan, Africa’s largest country and one of its poorest. He did not say anything about restoring civilian rule. In February a group of army officers presented Prime Minister Mahdi with an ultimatum demanding that he either find a political settlement to the civil war or give the military the means to seek a battlefield victory. At that time, Mr. Mahdi agreed to widen his Government and hold peace talks with the southern rebels. Brigadier Bashir did not say today whether the peace initiative would continue” (…) “Brigadier Bashir said he would become head of state, Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. He announced the suspension of the Constitution, the dissolution of Parliament and the imposition of emergency rule. He also declared an overnight curfew. ‘Your armed forces have come to carry out a tremendous revolution for the sake of change after suffering that included deterioration in everything to the extent that your lives have become paralyzed,” Brigadier Bashir said today, according to reports monitored in Cairo” (Cowell, Alan – ‘Military Coup In Sudan Ousts Civilian Regime’ 01.07.1989, link: https://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/01/world/military-coup-in-sudan-ousts-civilian-regime.html).

ICC Summary charge:

.Upon investigation of crimes allegedly committed in the territory of Darfur, Sudan, on or after 1 July 2002, the Office of the Prosecutor (hereafter the “Prosecution” or the “Office”) has concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Hassan Ahmad AL BASHIR (hereafter referred to as “AL BASHIR”) bears criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute for the crime of genocide under Art. 6(a); killing members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of those groups; and (c) deliberately inflicting on those groups conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in part; for crimes against humanity under Art. 7(1) of the Rome Statute committing as part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the civilian population of Darfur with knowledge of the attack, the acts of (a) murder; (b) extermination; (d) forcible transfer of the population; (f) torture and (g) rapes, and for war crimes under Art. 8 (2)(e)(i) of the Statute, for intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such, and (v) pillaging a town or place” (ICC – ‘SITUATION IN DARFUR, THE SUDAN’ 14.07.2008, link: https://www.icc-cpi.int/CourtRecords/CR2008_03987.PDF).

Because of the military coup d’etat in 1989 and is still in power, I doubt he would ever leave his reign. The party had to make amends and accept to change the constitution. Since everyone knows that the Omar Al-Bashir is going nowhere. He is staying and secure his position, a position he has consolidated and secured. The use of army and intimidation, as well as petrodollars has secured this pattern. The violence to control provinces and also show force. Because no one are supposed to question him or even challenge his rule. That is why newspapers, media-houses and journalists can get into trouble. Protest turns violent as the state security organizations brutally shuts them down, even when the state is putting higher prices on petrol and bread. That is just the way Sudan is ruled, especially under Al-Bashir.

He has no trouble forging militias to kill dissenters in Dafur, South Kordofan or in South Sudan. He has supported a Nasir rebellion in South Sudan, and surely made the crisis within Darfur much worse. This is deliberate acts to control by havoc, which he has gained support and massive strength by killing civilians. There isn’t without any reason, why the ICC has put charges on him and wants him on trial for the crimes against humanity.

What was news this week, that some even called breaking news, wasn’t really that. This is a man that used the guns to get power, continues to use the gun to stay in power and have no intent of giving way to others. If they are in his way, he will blast their heads off. Peace.

World Vision Statement Regarding our Past Engagement with Islamic Relief Agency in Sudan (31.07.2018)

World Vision has robust controls and screening processes in place and condemns any diversion of aid funding and strongly condemn any act of terrorism or support for those activities.

RANDBURG, South Africa, July 31, 2018 – World Vision’s work in Sudan is focused on improving the lives of the most vulnerable children. In 2017, our programs reached approximately 674,000 vulnerable people, 70 percent of these were children and women.  The work sub-granted to IRA in 2014 was a very small percentage of our significant program expenditures in Sudan, less than 1% of our total at that time.

In March 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) approved World Vision’s grant proposal that clearly listed Islamic Relief Agency (IRA) as a proposed sub-grantee. At the time of selection, there was no indication that IRA had any possible ties to an alleged terrorist-supporting organisation.

There are several Islamic Relief organisations operating around the world which are not blocked, and when we searched the blocked parties lists for “Islamic Relief” in “Sudan,” the searches produced no results.  That is still true today on the website of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

In May 2014, when WV applied to renew its registration with OFAC as a charity working in Sudan, it identified IRA as a sub-grantee in its application. OFAC approved the renewal in August 2014 without any comments or questions about IRA.

In November 2014, we informed OFAC and USAID that we had concerns about IRA in Sudan possibly being related to certain other organisations with “Islamic Relief” in their names, designated by the US government as organisations allegedly supporting terrorism.  Because of these concerns, we suspended further grant implementation by IRA pending clarification from OFAC.

In January 2015, OFAC responded that IRA in Sudan “appears to be the same entity” as the one on OFAC’s blocked parties list. The sub-grant by then had expired, it was not renewed, and we discontinued any future collaboration with IRA.  At this time, OFAC authorised us to pay IRA $125,000 for the humanitarian work that was verified to have already been completed under the grant.  The payment made to IRA was not a diversion of funds but payment for programming services of confirmed quality.

World Vision took its compliance obligations seriously, but respectfully asked permission to pay IRA money owing for legitimate humanitarian work (salaries, humanitarian aid and supplies for beneficiaries, travel etc.) already incurred. World Vision explained failure to do so could have exposed it to potential legal liability for breach of contract, resulted in the very real chance of Government expulsion from Sudan and as a consequence, the loss of a lifeline for tens of thousands of children and their families.

World Vision has robust controls and screening processes in place and condemns any diversion of aid funding and strongly condemn any act of terrorism or support for those activities.

We have no evidence that any of our funds have been used for anything other than urgent humanitarian work.

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