HRC39: Interactive dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan

UN Human Rights Council – 39th regular session
Item 4: Interactive dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan

Oral statement delivered by Nicolas Agostini

Mr. President,

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (DefendDefenders) thanks the
Com­mission on Human Rights in South Sudan for its oral update, and reiterates the call for justice and accountability following the signing of the revitalised peace agreement.

Although we welcome the sentencing of the military personnel convicted for rape and murder
du­ring the July 2016 attack on the Terrain Hotel in Juba, the same justice should be extended to all victims of human rights violations committed during the five-year conflict in South Sudan. While peace and order are necessary elements for human rights to flourish, they should not come at the cost of accountability, which must be ensured in order to end the cycle of revenge and violence that has plagued the region for decades.

The South Sudanese government should sign the Memorandum of Understanding to formally esta­blish and operationalise the Hybrid Court for South Sudan to ensure transparent accountability for crimes committed during the war.

The new peace deal represents hope for South Sudan to end a war that has claimed tens of
thou­sands of lives and dispersed many South Sudanese across East Africa, not to mention contributed to rampant sexual violence and food insecurity in the country.

We urge all the warring parties to respect the terms of this agreement, including the unilateral cea­se­fire, and work towards rebuilding the world’s youngest nation.

Thank you for your attention.



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.