UN human rights official expressed hope that the African Union report into human rights violations in South Sudan would be released soon.
Feb 11, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — After visiting South Sudan, still in the grips of a civil war, UN human rights official Ivan Simonovic said that accountability for abuses in the country is needed and expressed hope that the African Union report into human rights violations would be released soon.
“Though the scale and severity of the conflict has recently declined, there are more people in our protection sites, now over 100,000; the number of displaced and refugees has continued to grow, reaching 2 million people, there are thousands more civilians dead and new humanitarian law and human rights violations have been committed by both sides,” Simonovic, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, told reporters at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.
According to the official, the African Union established a commission of inquiry into the human rights violations committed in South Sudan in December, 2013. The commission recently submitted a report to the African Union Peace and Security Council, but its consideration has been deferred.
“I am hopeful that the AU [African Union] will soon publicly release the report and support the implementation of its findings,”Simonovic said.The official stressed that even if the conflicting sides in South Sudan manage to sign a peace agreement, it will take a long time to ensure sustainable peace in the country.
“The on-going peace process must include elders, religious leaders, youth, women and other civil society actors,” Simonovic stressed.
According to the UN official, South Sudan still faces grave challenges, particularly in the security and justice system.
“In the whole of the country, there are no more than 100-200 judges,” Simonovic said, adding that there are only two prosecutors in the Eastern Equatoria State, which is “larger than many European countries” and 70 percent of the police officers in the region are illiterate, according to a local police chief.
“The UN wants to support their capacity-building but only after those who have committed human rights violations are vetted, investigated, prosecuted and appropriately punished, in line with international standards,” Simonovic emphasized.
According to the UN Security Council, there have been serious human rights abuses in South Sudan. Last month, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui pointed to the pressing problem of child recruitment by various armed groups in the country.
Zerrougui stressed that “thousands” of children continue fighting in the ranks of various parties to the conflict in South Sudan.
Violence erupted in South Sudan in December, 2013, when president Salva Kiir accused opposition leader Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Thousands of people have been killed in the ongoing civil war in the country.