Letter to Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council;
We, the undersigned national, regional and international non-governmental organisations, write to call on your delegation to actively support the full renewal of the mandate of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (“the Commission” or “the CoHR”) during the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council (“the Council”), which will take place from 25 February-22 March 2019.
Although the signing of the Revitalised Peace Agreement for Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), on 12 September 2018, has offered some hope to the people of South Sudan, fighting has continued in parts of the country and significant human rights issues remain unaddressed. The consistent failure by the Government of South Sudan to address violations and abuses is a key driver of ongoing violence.
The Council is uniquely placed to stress that sustainable peace cannot be achieved without justice and to ensure that the existing international investigative and advisory mechanism for South Sudan can continue its work until a robust accountability mechanism can offer the victims and survivors justice and redress.
Unfortunately, progress on the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS) and other transitional justice mechanisms provided for in the August 2015 Peace Agreement has stalled. The Commission is currently the only mechanism capable of conducting impartial and independent investigations into crimes under international law and other human rights violations committed in the context of the conflict, and collecting and preserving evidence. We urge you to extend the Commission’s mandate until the HCSS, or at a minimum its investigative branch, is operational.
We call on the Council to follow up on its meaningful action on South Sudan to date by renewing the Commission’s mandate to enable it to support justice, truth, and reparations for the victims of the crimes committed in the country and to contribute to ensuring sustainable peace. Member and Observer States should support the development and adoption of a resolution that:
- Renews the mandate of the Commission in full, to allow it to continue to conduct independent investigations into alleged human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and to collect and preserve evidence of, and clarify responsibility for, alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, with a view to ending impunity and ensuring accountability, with a particular focus on sexual and gender-based crimes, and attacks or reprisals against human rights defenders, humanitarian aid workers and other independent actors;
- Urges the Government of South Sudan and opposition groups to allow and facilitate access to all locations and persons of interest to the Commission;
- Requests that reports and updates of the Commission be transmitted to the African Union (AU) Commission in order to support and inform future investigations of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and the UN Security Council for consideration and further action;
- Encourages the AU Commission to take immediate steps, including the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, to ensure justice for serious crimes committed, as recommended by the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan and provided for in the 2015 Peace Agreement and the 2018 Revitalised Agreement;
- Urges the Government of South Sudan to sign the Memorandum of Understanding to formally establish and operationalise the Hybrid Court; and
- Urges all States to encourage further concrete action to deter and address ongoing violations of international law at the UN Security Council.
We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues.
African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA)
Assistance Mission Africa (AMA)
Center for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ)
Center for Reproductive Rights
Commission indépendante des droits de l’Homme (Morocco)
Cush Organization for Development and Advocacy
DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Dialogue and Research Initiative (DRI)
End Impunity Organization (EIO)
Exiled Human Rights Defenders (EHRD)
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG)
Human Rights Watch
Padeo South Sudan
Remembering the Ones We Lost (ROWL)
Solidarity Ministries Africa for Reconciliation and Development (SMARD)
South Sudan Law Society
South Sudan Women Empowerment Network (SSWEN)
West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN)