In the present report, submitted to Human Rights Council pursuant to its resolution 31/20, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan gives an overview of the situation of human rights in South Sudan, and assesses the implementation of the provisions on transitional justice of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan signed by the parties to the conflict in August 2015.
The Commission recommends that the Government of South Sudan, with immediate effect, cease hostilities, conclude a permanent ceasefire and renew publicly its commitment to the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in Republic South Sudan, including cooperation with the African Union, for the speedy establishment of a hybrid court for South Sudan. The Commission also recommends the immediate establishment of an international, independent investigation, under the auspices of the United Nations, into the most serious crimes committed in South Sudan since December 2013 by, inter alia, collecting and preserving evidence of human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and by supporting criminal proceedings before the hybrid court and national, regional and international tribunals with jurisdiction over such crimes.
In its resolution 31/20, the Human Rights Council established the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for a period of one year, and requested the Commission to, inter alia, monitor and report on the situation of human rights in South Sudan and to make recommendations for its improvement, and to assess past reports on the situation of human rights since December 2013 in order to establish a factual basis for transitional justice and reconciliation.
On 14 June 2016, the President of the Human Rights Council appointed Yasmin Sooka, Kenneth R. Scott and Godfrey M. Musila to serve as the three members of the Commission, with Ms. Sooka as its Chair. The Commission began its work in July. It conducted its first mission to South Sudan and surrounding regions from 8 to 15 September, and a second mission from 21 November to 8 December. The Commission also visited Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
On 14 December 2016, the Human Rights Council convened a special session on South Sudan to discuss the deteriorating situation of human rights, which was attended by the Chair of the Commission. At the conclusion of the special session, the Council, in its resolution S-26/1, reaffirmed the mandate of the Commission, with renewed emphasis on the need to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged violations and abuses of human rights with a view to ensuring accountability. The Council requested the Commission to suggest priority recommendations for the Government of South Sudan to consider how to end sexual and gender-based violence.
In the present report, which covers the period from July 2016 to February 2017, the Commission assesses the situation of human rights in South Sudan and the implementation of the provisions of chapter V of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, including the prospects for the establishment of a hybrid court for South Sudan. It also addresses recommendations to the Government of South Sudan and the international community on combating impunity and strengthening accountability for human rights violations and abuses.
During its two missions to South Sudan, the Commission was able to meet a wide range of senior government officials, including the First Vice-President of South Sudan, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Justice, the Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the Chief Justice, members of the judiciary, the leader of the South Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A in Opposition) and the former Vice-President, Riek Machar, in South Africa. The Commission also met with members of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission and the Peace and Reconciliation Commission. In addition, it visited Bentiu in Unity and Malakal in Upper Nile, Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile, Wau in Western Bhar el Ghazal, Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Juba and Kuda in Central Equatoria, and Torit in Eastern Equatoria.
The Commission held extensive discussions with United Nations and humanitarian workers, including the senior leadership of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), members of different humanitarian clusters and of specialized agencies of the United Nations, diplomats, representatives of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Chair and members of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission overseeing the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sudan and South Sudan, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union.
In Addis Ababa, the Commission also met with representatives of the Peace and Security Council and the Office of Legal Counsel of the African Union. In Nairobi and Addis Ababa, the Commission met with government officials.
The Commission thanks the Government of South Sudan for facilitating its missions and responding to its requests for information. It is grateful for the full cooperation it received from the Governments of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda during its missions to those States, and in particular for facilitating the Commission’s visits to refugee camps in Gambella in Ethiopia and Adjumani in Uganda.
The Commission also appreciated the valuable contributions made to its work by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNMISS, non-governmental organizations and experts. It is grateful for the support received from United Nations agencies and partners, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in Ethiopia and Uganda.