The UN Human Rights Council’s decision to extend the mandate of its Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (CHRSS) shows the commitment of the organisation and its member states to support the South Sudanese people, DefendDefenders said today. This new Council resolution comes as, in the country, human rights violations continue, impunity remains pervasive, and mounting tensions point to a risk of relapse into large-scale conflict. Scrutinising the human rights situation and holding perpetrators of violations criminally accountable remain indispensable.
“The CHRSS remains a vital mechanism,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director, DefendDefenders. “Justice and accountability are not a foreign or Western, but an African agenda supported by civil society and institutional actors such as the African Union, which all stress the importance of human rights to build sustainable peace.”
The resolution adopted today mentions a range of human rights concerns in South Sudan. It extends the mandate of the CHRSS for one year, enabling it to continue its investigations, including identification of perpetrators, and technical advice as part of its mandate.
As close to 100 civil society organisations highlighted ahead of the Council’s 52nd session, the CHRSS remains the only mechanism tasked with collecting and preserving evidence of human rights violations and abuses with a view to ensuring accountability in the country. As such, it plays a crucial role in deterring and preventing further atrocity crimes. It is even more important since parties to the 2018 revitalised peace agreement extended South Sudan’s transitional period by 24 months, until February 2025, and the conditions that prompted the Human Rights Council to establish the CHRSS, in 2016, have not significantly changed to warrant less scrutiny.
As the CHRSS documented, egregious violations continue with impunity. These violations include the use of rape and gang rape as a weapon of war, deliberate starvation, recruitment and use of child soldiers, disappearances, summary executions, and arbitrary detentions of human rights defenders and journalists.
“As South Sudan is headed for elections in late 2024, nothing is ready,” said Estella Kabachwezi, Advocacy, Research and Communications Manager, DefendDefenders. “Insecurity remains pervasive and none of the transitional justice mechanisms envisioned by the peace agreement have been established. This is not the time to relax human rights scrutiny.”
The Council is holding its 52nd regular session (HRC52) from 27 February to 4 April 2023. As in 2021 and 2022, a second resolution on South Sudan, drafted by the country’s government itself and focusing on “technical assistance,” is expected to be adopted on 4 April 2023. Civil society has highlighted its inadequate and insufficient character.
For more information, please contact:
Advocacy, Research and Communications Manager, DefendDefenders
[email protected] or +256 782 360 460 (English)
Representative to the United Nations for DefendDefenders
[email protected] or +41 79 813 49 91 (English and French)