Africa

South Sudan still violent despite peace deal: UN

UN use media in smear campaign against South Sudan People's Defense Force, says spokesman

Benjamin Takpiny   | 20.02.2021
South Sudan still violent despite peace deal: UN

Juba, South Sudan

South Sudan remains a country with widespread violence despite a peace agreement reached more than three years ago, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said Friday. 

It said 10 years after independence, staggering levels of violence continue and threaten to spiral out of control across several regions.

“The scope and scale of violence we are documenting far exceeds the violence between 2013 and 2019,” Commission Chair Yasmin Sooka said in a statement.

The commission detailed violence last year among pastoralist militias in central and southern Jonglei State and Greater Pibor Administrative Area which resulted in massive violations against civilians, including the killing and displacement of hundreds.

Sooka described it as “some of the most brutal attacks carried out over the past seven years” warning that they included “destruction of homes which are systematically and deliberately torched, civilians forced to flee with many killed, and women and girls abducted, raped, gang-raped, and sexually enslaved, and in some instances forcibly married.”

“Women and girls have been targeted by all sides, while abducted boys were forced to fight, and in some instances forcibly assimilated into rival groups with their identities completely erased,” she said.

The report said the motivation for the violence includes competition for power and territory, access to resources, lucrative gold mines, illegal taxation and funds derived from extortion.

“The scale of the armed violence and the newer weapons used by local groups suggest either the involvement of State forces or external actors,” according to Commissioner Andrew Clapham.

“Many of these acts are human rights violations and may also amount to crimes under international law included in the draft statute of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan,” he said. “There is currently almost no accountability in South Sudan for such violations. We therefore urge the Government to sign without further delay the Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union which establishes the Court.”

The reports also warned of little progress in establishing any of the transitional justice mechanisms provided for in Chapter V of the Agreement to address accountability for conflict-related violations.

“The lack of accountability for historical grievances and the general state of lawlessness are fueling impunity for gross human rights violations in South Sudan,” said Commissioner Barney Afako. “If not addressed, this may leave deep-seated ethnic and other divisions, worsen gender-based discrimination, and exacerbate the violence in the country.”

The report blamed armed conflict in Central Equatoria that began in November 2018 on the South Sudan People's Defense Forces (SSPDF), the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, local militias and the National Salvation Front -- a non-signatory to the Revitalized Peace Agreement.

The South Sudan People's Defense Forces (SSPDF) acting spokesman, Brig. Gen Santo Domic Chol, denied the involvement of the group.

“It is not true, this report has never been shared neither with the government or SSPDF leadership,” said Chol.

“They use media for a smear campaign on the SSPDF,” he said.


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