Human Rights Commission wants end to impunity for perpetrators of violence against South Sudanese

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On the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan, many of those responsible for the violence against its people are yet to be held to account.

There have been ongoing human rights violations and abuses with no access to justice for the victims.

The overwhelming story that we encountered included not just the attacks against civilians but the looting, the rapes and sexual violence as well as the burning of villages, cattle raids, abduction of women and children and the lack of access to food and education,” said Human Rights Commission in South Sudan Chairperson, Yasmin Sooka.

The Human Rights Commission in South Sudan is an independent body set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council to determine and report the facts and circumstances of 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.

It has been visiting the country to collect and preserve evidence of these alleged violations so that there can ultimately be accountability.

“This impunity is completely unacceptable and what we need to ensure is that there is a meaningful judicial process where perpetrators of these horrible acts can be brought to justice. There needs to be accountability for impunity which has become endemic in this country over the past few years,” said Yasmin Sooka.

The Commissioners visited the capital Juba as well as more remote parts of the country to hear from those suffering from the ongoing violence.

“All of those we spoke to said that the most important thing now is for South Sudan to find some way of the war ending and of sustainable peace coming to South Sudan -not just the guns stopping but real and durable peace,” said Yasmin Sooka.

Fellow Commissioner, Professor Andrew Clapham, said that the children of South Sudan were also missing out on educational opportunities which was putting the future generation and development of the country at risk.

More than 1.8 million people are internally displaced with another two million having fled to neighboring countries. Half of the population - six million people – rely on humanitarian assistance to survive and the outlook for the coming year is grim. 

“All the people you speak to say I want to go home, I want to be able to take care of myself. This is a country where there is enormous resilience but the way this war is being conducted it is actually wearing people down. It has to stop and there has to be accountability and I think that is the commitment we have that we will do everything we can to enable that to happen,” said Yasmin Sooka.

The Commission said the South Sudanese Government had cooperated during its visit and worked to provide answers to many of its questions. The Commission will present its report to the Human Rights Council in March. 

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