’We fear the worst’ : Breaking the cycle of violence and impunity in South Sudan to prevent chaos

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Paris, Pretoria, December 8, 2014 – Civilians in South Sudan have been paying a huge price since the outbreak, on December 15, 2013, of the conflict which opposed the forces loyal to the President Salva Kiir and those supporting the former Vice President Riek Machar.

In its mission report on South Sudan, FIDH raises serious concerns over the risks of a further deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country if no effective measures are taken to break the cycle of violence and impunity which currently prevail.

To prevent the country from re-sinking into chaos, mediation efforts must be strengthened, effective sanctions must target those obstructing the peace process, and mechanisms of justice must be put in place declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

Almost a year after the outbreak of the conflict, the parties have not yet concluded any effective political agreement. Meanwhile, sporadic armed clashes have continued in the north of the country and several testimonies have reported a worrying proliferation of armed groups and continuous resupplying of weapons and recruitment of combatants. Against this backdrop, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees remain unsafe, concerns are raising over the increasing hindrances to fundamental rights and freedoms and those responsible for serious crimes remain at large.

IGAD, UNSC and AU must establish an effective embargo on arms and take a harder stand against those impeding the peace process by imposing targeted sanctions. The three institutions must further refuse any peace agreement which would provide immunity and amnesties to those responsible for serious crimes, in violation of international law. To ensure effectiveness of these sanctions, IGAD, AU and UNSC must also guarantee that they are accompanied with mechanisms of justice.

A culture of impunity and lack of accountability permeates the current climate in South Sudan. The practice of accommodation and not accountability has reinforced the notion that it may be profitable to be a warlord in the long run after all. This time there has to be a departure from the practice of peace deals accommodating the protagonist while ignoring accountability for serious crimes declared Arnold Tsunga, Lawyer who headed the FIDH mission in South Sudan.

FIDH considers that any peace agreement must include a proposal for a special court system to be set up within the South Sudanese judiciary which would provide for South Sudanese and specially trained foreign judges to try perpetrators of international crimes. FIDH calls upon the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to ensure a truth revealing / memorisation process which will ensure that the truth about the incidents after December 2013 are recorded. These mechanisms of justice must further guarantee the effective participation of victims and witnesses into the proceedings as well as their protection.

Download the report "We fear the worst": Breaking the cycle of violence and impunity to prevent chaos

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