HRC37: Interactive dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan

Human Rights Council: 37th session
Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan

Oral Intervention
DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

Delivered by Mr. Ajo Kenyi on 13 March 2018 

Thank you, Mr. President.

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project expresses its gratitude to the Commission. Their findings shine an invaluable light on a protracted conflict where human rights defenders, civil society, and international humanitarian workers are routinely banned from accessing and providing aid to victims.

Human rights defenders in South Sudan struggling to document the ongoing violations are faced with harassment, threats against their life, and reprisals. On the weekend of 24 and 25 February, a civil society leader was reportedly blocked by agents of the National Security Service from travelling to participate in the High-Level Revitalization Forum peace talks, contrary to the terms of the December 2017 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

Mr. President,

As the Commission notes in its report, pending the operationalisation of the Hybrid Court, there is no mechanism to ensure accountability for what may amount to crimes against humanity. Although some soldiers have been convicted, civil society reports that the proceedings did not meet international fair trial standards, and no senior officials are on trial. In fact, as the High Commissioner noted during the presentation of his annual report, three generals, identified by Security Council Sanctions Committee as responsible for grave human rights violations, were recently promoted.

Impunity continues to be a catalyst for new violations in South Sudan. Critical evidence, essential for future prosecution, is lost every day.  As long as there is no accountability, there can be no hope for lasting peace and reconciliation.  We call on the Council to renew and strengthen the mandate to include the identification of individual perpetrators, with a view to future prosecution.


I thank you.





Human Rights Defender of the month:Mary Pais Da Silva

On 17 February 2023, in Ethiopia’s rustic resort of Bishoftu, more than 5000Km from her homeland, Mary Da Silva was announced winner of the 2023 AfricanDefenders Shield Award, in the presence of hundreds of colleague human rights defenders from 36 African countries. It was a fitting validation for the Eswatini human rights lawyer, whose sense of empathy and sensitivity to injustice has been a defining hallmark of her career.
Born 45 years ago in Lubombo, eastern Eswatini, the last of 4 siblings, Mary attributes her values to her upbringing. Although she was born in Eswatini, her parents are originally from Mozambique, and only relocated to eSwatini at the start of the Mozambican civil war that lasted between 1977-1992, which ravaged families and displaced many others. As one of the earliest to escape and settle in Eswatini, Mary’s family shouldered the responsibility of being a gateway for many other Mozambicans escaping the violence in their country for a more peaceful and stable livelihood in Southern Africa. This experience was illuminating for Mary