Solutions needed to tackle violence, says Ban
19 March 2013 - Lasting solutions must be found to address the threat from armed groups in South Sudan, despite government efforts to control them, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in latest report on the country. “I am disturbed by the recent flare-up of new incidents of inter-communal violence in Rumbek, Wau and Yei ... as well as the persistent deadly cattle raids that are perpetuating the cycle of violence in Jonglei and the tri-state area,” says the report, released on 19 March.
The Secretary-General praises the government's dispatch of high-level teams from Juba to address recent violence in Wau and Pibor. But he states that efforts to end vicious cycles of inter-communal violence and cattle raiding remain ad hoc and lasting solutions are needed.
“More efforts by the government are essential to address the root causes of the instability in Jonglei State, where a cattle raid claimed about 100 lives on 8 February, and in the tri-state area of Lakes, Unity and Warrap, where more than 3,000 armed youth attempted to launch a raid that could have created a crisis of major proportions,” Mr. Ban says.
He commends UNMISS for protecting thousands of civilians seeking refuge in its camps during the recent violence in Pibor and Wau. “However, the Mission is facing major challenges in implementing its protection-of-civilians mandate, even as it continues to devise innovative protection tools and strategies.”
Mr. Ban notes that UNMISS operations were marred by the tragic shooting down of one of its helicopters on 21 December 2012. This incident was particularly reprehensible as it was perpetrated by national security forces.
“I strongly urge the Government to complete its investigation of the incident in a thorough and timely manner and prosecute those responsible for this crime,” he says.
The Secretary-General expresses concern for delayed implementation of the 27 September 2012 Cooperation Agreements with Sudan. The deadlock, finally broken on 8 March when the parties agreed to establish the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, resulted in increased tensions and skirmishes in border areas.
He also points to recently reported human rights violations in the most volatile parts of the country. Investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings and other cases must be urgently completed and perpetrators held accountable.
Mr. Ban observes that UNMISS has faced obstacles in human rights monitoring, investigation and reporting in parts of South Sudan. “The detention and interrogation of two Human Rights Officers for several hours, which follows the expulsion of a Senior Human Rights Officer last October, is deplorable.”
He is also disturbed by an apparent lack of respect for freedom of expression. “Incidents of arbitrary arrests, threats, surveillance and intimidation are insidious breaches of the freedom of expression. The killing of columnist Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awol is indicative of this alarming trend.”
He urges the South Sudanese authorities to ensure that the three Media Bills currently before the National Legislative Assembly protect fundamental rights of all citizens to express their views.
The Secretary-General welcomes establishment of the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Commission Council, but expresses concern about government's ability to fund the programme.
He also praises the successful inauguration of the National Elections Commission, a vital step in preparing for 2015 elections. “I encourage the government to ensure that the funding and operational needs of the Commission are met to enable it to discharge its duties.”
Mr. Ban welcomes the extension of the Commission’s mandate until 31 December 2014 to carry out popular consultations and outreach in ensuring the permanent constitution considers and reflects the views of all South Sudanese.