Wednesday, July 26, 2017

IGAD Summit Roots for Accountability in War-torn South Sudan
July 24, 2017 (JUBA) – Leaders attending the 58 extra-ordinary summit in the South Sudan capital, Juba have vowed to prioritize accountability in attempts to the long civil war in the young nation.

While opening the summit on Monday, the chairman of the IGAD Council of Ministers, Workneh Gebeyehu said that the summit would discuss the implementation of the transitional justice, the truth and reconciliation process and the reparation of victims in the conflict.

“Everyone that has committed atrocities and human rights abuses must be held accountable, this is not going to be a business as usual, we regional leaders must prioritize accountability so that it can achieve lasting peace and avoid another cycle of destabilizing violence,” he told the summit.

In December last year, the United Nations urged the African Union to quickly establish the hybrid court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute those bearing criminal responsibility for the atrocities.

“The knowledge that accountability structures exist and will be deployed against the perpetrators of mass atrocities can have real preventive impact,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, told the Human Rights Council at a special session.

The proposed hybrid court, which will combine elements of both domestic and international law and be composed of personnel from South Sudan and abroad, is envisaged in the peace agreement signed by the South Sudanese warring parties in August 2015.

The Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) and other stakeholders formally committed to the establishment of the HCSS “by the AUC to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing criminal responsibility for violations of international law and/or applicable South Sudanese law committed from 15 December 2013 through the end of the transitional period.”

The IGAD special envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais said establishing a hybrid court was the best option for ending South Sudan’s conflict.

“Without peace in South Sudan, there can be no peace in the region, so this continued fighting worries regional leaders,” he said.

South Sudan’s government say hybrid court will undermine peace, insisting that it needed time to achieve peace at the expense of justice for victims of atrocities committed during the nation’s conflict.

South Sudan became an independent country on 9 July 2011 after decades of war, lengthy negotiations and a referendum to secede from Sudan. Two and a half years later, in December 2013 armed conflict broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those allied to his deputy Riek Machar.

In August 2015, the two parties agreed a peace deal and later formed a transitional unity government with President Kiir at the helm and Machar as one of his two deputies.

Renewed fighting broke out in July 2016 with heavy clashes in the capital Juba and other parts of the country. Machar has since been replaced as first Vice President and fled the country.

About 2.6 million South Sudanese have fled their homes since the outbreak of fighting in 2013, with some 1.6 million internally displaced and another one million living as refugees in neighbouring countries.


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