HRC31: Individual Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on South Sudan

31th session of the
Human Rights Council Item 2

23 March 2016
Individual Interactive Dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on South Sudan
Delivered by Renate Bloem – CIVICUS UN Representative (Geneva)

Mr President,

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation thank the High Commissioner for his report.

No one in this room can deny the scale and gravity of the human rights crisis taking place in South Sudan today.

The African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, and now the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have all comprehensively documented the shocking human rights violations committed since the outbreak of the conflict, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Parties to the conflict have murdered, tortured, inflicted cruel, inhumane and other degrading treatment, used rape as a weapon of war, committed widespread sexual and gender-based crimes against civilians, forcibly conscripted children, and looted and destroyed civilian property.

Civil society space in South Sudan is under constant attack, and over the last 3 months alone at least 6 journalists and human rights defenders have been arbitrarily detained, some of whom were brutally tortured.

Human rights defenders are repeatedly beaten, attacked, harassed, intimidated and threatened by the National Security Services and Military Intelligence in response to their work on the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement and transitional justice.

Mr President, the people of South Sudan need the support of a Special Rapporteur to ensure constant scrutiny of the human rights situation in South Sudan during what will be a long and difficult transitional phase.

There cannot be sustainable peace and stability in South Sudan without accountability for the atrocities committed over the past 26 months, and our organisations believe that the Council has a crucial role to play in bringing justice to the victims of this devastating civil war.

We call upon the Council to establish a long-term mandate for a Special Rapporteur to work in collaboration with on-going regional efforts to monitor and report on the human rights situation and to contribute to strengthening the accountability and transitional justice process in South Sudan.

I thank you.



Human Rights Defender of the month: Esther Tawiah

In Ghana, Esther Tawiah is one of the loudest voices for women empowerment and gender. It is also why she is one of the most loathed. Born and raised in New-Tafo in the country’s eastern region, Esther grew up surrounded by a culture that frowned at the idea of women participating in public affairs, and witnessed firsthand, the backlash those who dared to challenge that cultural norm faced.

“I grew up in a society where ageism and sexism were so entrenched. As a young person, you weren’t supposed to give your opinion on public issues, especially if you were a woman. Women who dared to speak up were caricatured and branded as frustrated, unmarriageable prostitutes, all designed to shut them up,” she says.