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UNHRC Special Session on South Sudan: now is the time to act

Oral Intervention

Delivered on behalf of Mr Hassan Shire

Thank you Mr President.

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcomes this Special Session and the Commission’s work to provide much-needed scrutiny of the Government of South Sudan and armed actors’ intolerable human rights violations. By speaking out about a looming catastrophe, orchestrated ethnic cleansing, and the very real possibility of further mass atrocities they have sounded the alarm.

Mr President, for three years we have watched, helpless, the people of South Sudan suffer at the hands of their leaders; for three years we have asked state representatives in this room to address one of the worst conflicts and human rights crises in the world.

Today, we are at a turning point in South Sudan. The space for independent voices has been obliterated. Activists and journalists have been attacked, arrested, tortured, killed and forced to stop their vital work denouncing horrific human rights violations.

Now is the time to act.

The Commission’s report may not be out, but there is no doubt that South Sudan is edging closer to an irreparable catastrophe. You have to act now to make sure the world knows about the unspeakable atrocities that are taking place, act to demand accountability for those whose dignity has been ripped to shreds. You have to act to ensure that the abhorrent crimes being committed as we speak are properly investigated and the evidence preserved, so that one day South Sudanese people have a chance of seeking justice.

Mr President, sadly, South Sudanese civil society is not present on this important day. On their behalf, we strongly urge members of this Council to renew and strengthen the mandate of the Commission to investigate the terrible events unfolding in South Sudan and expose them to the world, so that it may finally realise how far humanity has been compromised, and act. That is the very purpose of this august body.

I thank you.




Human Rights Defender of the month: Joseph Oleshangay

As a human rights lawyer and advocate with the High Court of the United Republic of Tanzania, Joseph Moses Oleshangay spends most of his time crossing from one court to another, litigating human rights cases, some with life-altering implications for ordinary people. It is a monumental responsibility, one he never envisaged growing up.

As a young boy born into a Maasai household in northern Tanzania, his entire childhood revolved around cattle: “Our entire livelihood revolved around cattle. As a child, the main preoccupation was to tend to cows, and my formative years were spent grazing cattle around Endulen. It a simple lifestyle,” he says.