Home | News    Wednesday 22 July 2015

Rights body accuses South Sudanese army of “war crimes”


July 22, 2015 (JUBA) – The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused South Sudan government forces and allied fighters of carrying out scores of killings, rapes, and widespread burning and pillage of civilian property in military offensives in Unity state.

A soldier from the South Sudanese army stands in front of a vehicle in South Sudan’s Unity State on 12 January 2014 (AP)

“The deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian property during the offensive between April and June 2015 amount to war crimes, and the killings and rapes may also constitute crimes against humanity,” partly reads the 22 July report

Entitled, “They Burned it All: Destruction of Villages, Killings, and Sexual Violence in South Sudan’s Unity State,” the report was reportedly based on over 170 interviews with witnesses and survivors in June and July.

“More than 125 of these were displaced by fighting or attacks on their villages by government troops or allied militia from the Bul Nuer ethnic group,” it says.

According to the right body, shocking accounts of about 60 unlawful killings of civilian women, men, and children, including the elderly were documented. Some were allegedly hanged and others shot, and others were burned alive. Interviewees were selected randomly and the number of cases documented by the human rights body “almost certainly represents only a fraction of the total”.

“Government-aligned forces carried out gruesome killings and widespread rapes and burned countless homes as they swept across large parts of Unity State,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW.

“The devastating offensive in Unity State is the latest in a conflict characterized by shocking disregard for civilian life,” he added.

Killings took place in towns and villages, but fighters from the Bul Nuer ethnic group operating alongside government forces also shot at terrified civilians as they chased them into forests and swamps.

The pro-government soldiers and allied militia are accused of deliberately destroying food stores and seeds meant for cultivation.

“They were hunting people and cows,” a female witness told HRW.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced since the South Sudanese conflict began in December 2013 following disagreements within the country’s ruling party (SPLM).

At least 100,000 people, the United Nations says, have been displaced in the campaign by South Sudan army and its allied militia.


Meanwhile, HRW urged the UN Security Council to consider expanding targeted individual sanctions on commanders and others responsible for serious crimes during the Unity State offensive, and impose an arms embargo on the parties in the conflict.

“[The] United States President Barack Obama should make a public commitment to advance an arms embargo when he visits the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in late July,” stressed HRW.

The Security Council, it further said, should also promote a way to increase accountability, such as the establishment of a hybrid court made up of South Sudanese, international lawyers and judges to investigate and prosecute the worst crimes or push for investigation by the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

“The African Union, regional governments, and key partners of South Sudan, such as the US, should support these steps,” observed the 42-paged report.


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  • 22 July 2015 10:22, by Ayuiu Makuac Lam

    HRW, take primarily report base on propaganda by alliance forces to Riek Machar to be right. and this should lead to fuel war.
    HRW, should balance rightfully instead to take side along with Macar rebellion.

    • 22 July 2015 13:31, by Shadrack Nuer Machut

      Anybody who claims to be HRW must talk of both sides and how did this war start. If report of one side then it’s obviously bias & voided.

  • 22 July 2015 10:26, by Ayuen deng

    Those are what War is ! ! ! both side have the same story and the solution is not putting blame on SPLA but put end to this war.

    • 22 July 2015 12:06, by Mayom County Boy

      let not report something who has not happen in Unity state Bentiu.
      there is no any single human body lose is life during rebels and government offensive operation in Uniity state Bentiu
      Human right watch must be wrong from is report
      but who are those committed war crimes against humanity in Unity state Bentiu ?

  • 22 July 2015 21:19, by Whortti Bor Manza

    Very Foolish Human right groups,
    This is the nature of the Dinkas. See how they even kill themselves in Lakes and Warrap states. The only diffence is that they are using automatic riffles rather than spears and clubs which they were used to. The gloomy scenario is yet to come. Waite and see.

    • 23 July 2015 17:23, by Muorcienggok

      You are just sick of Dinkaphobia, and ethnic profiling, anyway criticism from moron like you does not bother Dinkas anymore

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