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Campaign group urges stay of S. Sudan’s arms embargo

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November 29, 2020 (NAIROBI) - The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must maintain the arms embargo on South Sudan, a campaign group said Monday, citing cases extreme violence by government forces and increase in attacks on civilians in the country.

Amnesty International, in a statement, said it documented a series of extrajudicial executions, forced displacement, torture, and destruction of civilian property by government and former opposition forces between April and June 2020 in Central Equatoria State, southwest of the capital Juba.

It accuses government of South Sudan of failure to protect its people.

This comes as the 15-member prepares to conduct a mid-term review of its arms embargo and other measures on South Sudan before 15 December.

“Earlier this year, as South Sudan’s officials called for the arms embargo to be lifted, government soldiers were shooting civilians, burning homes, raping women and girls, and displacing tens of thousands of people from their villages in the south of the country,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s East and Southern Africa Director.

“The atrocities of this conflict compound the decades of suffering of the millions of South Sudanese, who survived war crimes and crimes against humanity during the struggle for independence from Sudan," he added.

Clashes have reportedly continued in the southern part of the country between the rebel group known as the National Salvation Front (NAS), on the one hand, and the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) and Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), on the other.

For instance, in Central Equatoria State, Amnesty International said it documented 110 destroyed structures in several attacks between April and June. Iinterviews were also conducted with eyewitnesses and family members of victims from Lainya, Morobo and Yei counties.

“Our research reveals that SSPDF and SPLA-IO soldiers are routinely violating international humanitarian law and failing to protect civilians. While these horrific attacks continue, it is vital that the UNSC demands South Sudan ends these war crimes and brings the perpetrators to justice, while maintaining the arms embargo on the country,” said Muchena.

On 29 May, the UNSC renewed the arms embargo for another year by a 12-0 vote. By 15 December, the UNSC is to conduct a mid-term review of the arms embargo against progress achieved in implementation of all the provisions in the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, and adherence to a ceasefire. The UNSC will also consider how to develop benchmarks against which to review the arms embargo in May 2021.

The campaign group is further urging the UNSC to prioritize consideration of the state’s atrocious human rights record, not simply the fragmented implementation of the provisions of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

(ST)

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