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South Sudan activists say government, rebels committed crimes

February 23, 2014 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese civil society entity says both government and rebel forces be held accountable for the crimes committed in the country during the violence that has now engulfed the new nation for over two months.

Civilians at the UN House cUN House compound on the southwestern outskirts of Juba on December 17, 2013 (UPI/UNMISS/Julio Brathwaite)
Civilians at the UN House cUN House compound on the southwestern outskirts of Juba on December 17, 2013 (UPI/UNMISS/Julio Brathwaite)
Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) said it strongly supports the interim report on human rights violations in South Sudan, which was last week presented to the Security Council by the United Nations mission in the country (UNMISS).

The 21-page report, whose finding were based on interviews carried out with over 500 victims, witnesses and other sources was intended to provide the Security Council with the initial account of human right violations and atrocities committed between December 2013, when hostilities broke out, and the end of January 2014 as documented by UNMISS.

Largely focused on human rights violations and abused allegedly carried out in South Sudan’s Unity, Central Equatoria, Jonglei and Upper Nile states, the report cited numerous witnesses who reported the deliberate targeting of both national and foreign civilians in extrajudicial and other unlawful killings, including mass killings, enforced disappearances, gender based violence, ill treatments and torture by the forces allied to the two rivals engaged in the conflict.

UNMISS, however, said a more comprehensive public report on human right violations and the ongoing crisis in South Sudan would be released in April.

However, Edmund Yakani, CEPO’s executive director insisted that the conflicting parties in the conflict should cooperate to pave way for justice and accountability

“Time has come for the conflicting parties to cooperate in availing the perpetrators of human rights so that justices and accountability can take its course. This report should be treated as source of facts for AU inquiry commission during their independent investigations of the atrocities committed throughout the crisis in the country,” Yakani said in a statement.

“The 21-page report will provide facts required for justices and accountability to prevail,” he added, but said there should be no compromise in efforts to hold the perpetrators accountable.

ACTIONS NEEDED

Meanwhile, the organisation also urged the world body to move beyond mere issuing reports and instead take “immediate” actions in accordance with the findings of its report on the conflict.

“(..) [The] United Nations should render a quick report on the incident that occurred in UNMISS’ compound in Malakal [Upper Nile state capital] and this report will be the spring board for African Union inquiry Commission to start their independent investigation,” Yakani further noted.

A number of senior South Sudanese officials, in a series of interviews, questioned the neutrality of the interim UN report, with one of them describing it as “pure fabrication”.

(ST)

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