AU, UN asked to provide warning system ahead of South Sudan elections

Hentet fra  the City Review

The Africa Union (AU) has been told to help develop early warning systems that will address potential risks of violence in South Sudan as the country gears up for its first general election later this year.

The national polls are pencilled for December 2024 but a UN rights watchdog cautions in its latest report that the country risks running into a headwind that may jeopardise the effort so far made in stabilising the country, especially before, during and after the upcoming election.

In its recommendation, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan further appealed to UN member states to assist South Sudan in taking measures to end violence, especially conflict-related sexual violence; encourage authorities to ensure civic space; decease facilitating violations, including extraordinary renditions.

The report further recommended that all UN systems in South Sudan should provide protection and humanitarian assistance to civilians, and continue critical support, including for rule of law and justice institutions. In addition, the AU the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) were further instructed to unlock the stalemate with Juba on establishing the Hybrid Court for South Sudan.

The commission also warned of growing concern of unchecked mass violence and entrenched repression in the county. This, the report added, threatens the prospects of durable peace and human rights protections and thus “must urgently be addressed to live up to hopes of the people and commitments of the peace agreement, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said in its latest report.”

“Our investigations again found an unacceptable situation in South Sudan, whereby families and communities are devastated by human rights violations and abuses by armed forces, militias and state institutions acting with impunity. Further, the media and civil society groups operate under intolerable conditions that stifle democratic space for the population at large,” the commission noted.

Yasmin Sooka, Chair of the Commission, said that South Sudan’s immediate and long-term future hinges on political leaders finally making good on their commitments to bring peace and reverse cyclical human rights violations.

Measures to address conflict drivers and human rights violations are laid out in the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement, which is scheduled to conclude following the election in 10 months ‘ time.

But the commission warned that the country risks running into a headwind.

“Time is running out for South Sudan’s leaders to implement key commitments, which are the building blocks for peace, for holding the country together, and for advancing human rights beyond the elections.

“The transformative promises of the Revitalised Agreement remain unfulfilled, jeopardising prospects for peace and human rights protections,” said Commissioner Barney Afako.

“The process of merging forces is not yet complete, the drafting of a permanent constitution has not started, and none of the three transitional justice institutions are established,” said Afako.

The report further warned of increased patterns of violations that remain unchanged, with more abductions of women and children in Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area appear to be worsening in scale and severity, frequently involving horrific sexual violence.

According to the report, authorities in some parts of the country, for example, paid ransoms to captors in exchange for the release of abductees, which risks incentivising the recurrence of crimes. Many women and children are still missing; other abductees are held hostage as authorities fail to effectively intervene.

Earlier this week, the Spokesperson of the Government, Michael Makuei urged the commission to produce names and entities responsible for human rights violations cited in its report, saying South Sudan is committed to their prosecutions.

Source: AU, UN asked to provide warning system ahead of South Sudan elections – The City Review South Sudan (