South Sudan: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013

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Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013, South Sudan

February 28, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan is a republic operating under a transitional constitution signed into law upon declaration of independence from Sudan in July 2011. The country was led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, whose authority derives from his 2010 election as president of what was then the semiautonomous region of Southern Sudan within the Republic of Sudan. While the 2010 Sudan-wide elections did not wholly meet international standards, international observers believed that Kiir’s election reflected the popular will of a large majority of Southern Sudanese. International observers considered the January 2011 referendum on South Sudanese self-determination, in which 98 percent of voters chose to break from Sudan, to be free and fair. President Kiir is a founding member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) political party, the political wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). SPLM representatives controlled 19 of the 21 ministries and 298 of 332 seats in the bicameral legislature, which consists of the National Assembly and the Council of States, and nine of 10 state governorships. The legislature lacked independence and was dominated by the ruling party. Authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces. Security forces committed human rights violations.

On December 14, a contingent of SPLM political leaders withdrew from the party’s National Liberation Council (NLC) to protest party governance. On December 15, violence erupted in Juba within the Presidential Guard Force (PG) of the SPLA. According to witnesses, the violence began when PG members of Dinka ethnicity attempted to disarm PG members of Nuer ethnicity. During the weeks that followed, Dinka members of the PG and other security forces reportedly conducted targeted killings of Nuer civilians across the city. The events led to armed conflict between government forces and newly formed antigovernment forces in several states across the country and ethnic violence by civilians. By the end of the year, at least 1,000 individuals were killed and approximately 180,000 displaced as a result. The violence continued at year’s end.

The three most serious human rights problems in the country were conflict-related abuses by government security forces, rebel militia groups (RMGs), and rival ethnic communities, including killing, abuse and displacement of civilians; security force abuses unrelated to conflict, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, intimidation, and other inhumane treatment of civilians; and lack of access to justice, including arbitrary arrest, prolonged pretrial detention, and corruption within the justice sector.

Other human rights problems included abductions related to intercommunal and interethnic conflict, particularly of women and children; harsh prison conditions; and government restriction of freedoms of privacy, speech, press, and association. Displaced persons were often abused and harassed. Corruption among government officials was pervasive. The government restricted the movement of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and NGO workers were sometimes attacked and harassed. Violence and discrimination against women and children by government actors and within communities were widespread. Since the outbreak of conflict on December 15, there have been reports of forced conscription by government forces and recruitment and use of child soldiers by both government and antigovernment forces. Trafficking in persons, discrimination and violence against selected ethnic groups, governmental incitement of tribal violence, and child labor, including forced labor, also occurred.

Security force abuses occurred around the country, especially in areas subject to ethnic conflict, RMG activity, or civil unrest. The government took some steps to punish military or civilian officials who committed abuses, but impunity remained a major problem.

Conflicts between government forces, antigovernment forces, and RMGs led to human rights abuses. There were credible reports that the following armed groups perpetrated serious human rights abuses in South Sudan during the year: David Yau Yau’s rebel militia group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and antigovernment forces aligned with former vice president Riek Machar. The government of Sudan supported some RMGs in South Sudan. Attacks by RMGs affected parts of Jonglei State and areas that border Sudan. RMGs occasionally obstructed the delivery of humanitarian assistance. RMGs operating against the government also continued the recruitment and use of child soldiers throughout the year. The government of Sudan supported some RMGs in South Sudan. After nearly two years of no reported Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) activity in the country, several suspected LRA attacks occurred late in the year in Western Equatoria State, including abduction of four women and children, killing of one boy, and burning and looting of homes. Investigations into these incidents by the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and international counter-LRA elements based in Nzara, the African Union Regional Taskforce for counter LRA activities, and the government continued at year’s end. Displacements resulting from LRA activity in prior years continued to affect communities in Western Equatoria State.

Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan also resulted in displacements that affected South Sudanese communities in states along the border. Attacks in South Sudanese territory by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) resulted in deaths, injuries, property destruction, and civilian displacement in border areas.

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