South Sudan: Human Rights Council should appoint Special Rapporteur to address grave violations

25.02.2016

The UN Human Rights Council should appoint a UN expert to investigate, publicly report on, and promote accountability for 'severe, widespread and ongoing violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in South Sudan', say leading African and international human rights organisations.

UN Human Rights Council should appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate, promote accountability for, and contribute to prevention of grave human rights violations in South Sudan, say leading African and international human rights organisations.

(Geneva) - The UN Human Rights Council should appoint a UN expert to investigate, publicly report on, and promote accountability for 'severe, widespread and ongoing violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in South Sudan', a coalition of leading South Sudanese, African and international human rights organisations said today.

With the 31st session of the Council due to commence in Geneva on Monday, the organisations - including the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, the South Sudan Law Society, Human Rights Watch and ISHR - published an open letter to States demanding action to prevent and ensure accountability for acts in South Sudan which 'amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity'. 

Since the beginning of South Sudan’s civil war in mid-December 2013, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in horrific attacks, often targeted because of their ethnicity or perceived allegiances. Large parts of towns and cities, including civilian infrastructure such as clinics, hospitals, and schools, have been looted and destroyed. As of February 2016, there were over 2.3 million civilians displaced internally or in neighbouring countries.

According to the letter, since the beginning of the conflict, 'the space for civil society and independent media to express themselves has significantly narrowed'. In this regard, the letter expresses grave concern at 'the harassment of independent civil society actors and the introduction of restrictive legislation restricting the rights to freedom of association, expression and assembly severely undermine on-going efforts to effectively monitor and report on the human rights crisis in the country.'

'Journalists have been repeatedly targeted for their coverage of the conflict, with at least seven killed last year alone and dozens more arbitrarily detained, physically assaulted and intimidated. Human rights defenders and activists seeking to cooperate with the Human Rights Council have been the subject of escalating threats, attacks and reprisals,' the letter says.

With serious human rights violations in the country continuing, and impunity prevailing in relation to past grave and serious violations, it is imperative that States at the 31st session of the Council support the adoption of a strong resolution appointing a Special Rapporteur and promoting peace, justice and accountability in the country.

The NGOs submitting the open letter include:

  • Amnesty International
  • Assistance Mission for Africa
  • CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation
  • Dialogue and Research Initiative
  • East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Commission of Jurists
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  • South Sudan Law Society
  • Soweto Children’s Organization
  • West African Human Rights Defenders Network

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Human rights defenders
Mechanism
  • Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Human Rights Council
Country
  • South Sudan