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Hybrid Court must deliver justice to victims in S. Sudan: UN experts


UN Commission on Human Rights in Sudan (from left) Yasmin Sooka, Chair, Andrew Clapham and Barney Afako (2018), by UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (Twitter Photo)

February 1, 2021 (GENEVA) - The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has welcomed South Sudan government’s decision to establish the Hybrid Court and other transitional justice mechanisms to address violations committed during the conflict.

On Friday last week, South Sudan’s cabinet directed the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to take the necessary steps for establishing the Hybrid Court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and atrocity crimes.

“After more than two years of delay the Government has at last taken the first steps to initiate key transitional justice measures to address the legacy of gross human rights violations in South Sudan,” said the Commission on Human Rights Chairperson, Yasmin Sooka.

“If the Government of South Sudan is to retain any credibility whatsoever, the political rhetoric must translate into tangible, and genuine results,” she added.

The revitalised peace agreement signed in September 2018, stipulates that there shall be a Hybrid Court in South Sudan – aimed at holding war perpetrators accountable in the country’s civil war.

“Most critically, the Government must complete all the processes of reconstituting the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, which is to enact the domestic legislation for establishing the three transitional justice mechanisms under the 2018 Agreement. The Commission has provided benchmarks to the Government on the speedy implementation of the commitments under Chapter V,” stressed Sooka.

According to Commissioner Andrew Clapham, the delays to set up a Hybrid Court meant that the underlying causes and drivers of the conflict, including competition for resources, territorial control, and political influence, have continued to fuel localized conflicts, rampant corruption, and economic crimes in South Sudan.

“Meanwhile, those responsible for war crimes and continuing human rights violations have been emboldened by a system that permits impunity for torture, enforced disappearances, and atrocity crimes,” he added.

Meanwhile Commissioner Barney Afako said the government should now take immediate steps to sign the memorandum of understanding with the African Union and adopt the draft statute to establish the Hybrid Court, given the approval of the cabinet.

“It should also initiate broad-based and inclusive national consultations so that South Sudanese can contribute towards the formation of the other transitional justice processes, especially the truth commission,” he stressed.

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan was established by the Human Rights Council in March 2016 and extended in March 2017, and for further years in March 2018, March 2019, and June 2020, with a mandate to determine and report the facts and circumstances of, collect and preserve evidence of, and clarify responsibility for alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, with a view to ending impunity and providing accountability.


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