PARIS, France, January 22, 2015 — The African Union (AU) should immediately publish the report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, said Amnesty International, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, FIDH, and the South Sudan Law Society.
Their joint call comes ahead of the AU summit, amid concern that the ongoing delay in the publication of the report is impacting on the urgent need for accountability for crimes committed in South Sudan.
“Three months after the Commission of Inquiry submitted its report to the AU, its findings and recommendations are yet to see the light of day,” said Edmund Yakani, director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization. “In the meantime the conflict in South Sudan is continuing unabated with dire impacts on the civilian population.”
Over the past year, all parties to the conflict have committed crimes under international law that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including attacks on civilians often based on ethnicity or perceived political allegiance, sexual violence, and widespread destruction and looting of civilian property.
The Commission of Inquiry ended investigations in August and submitted its final report to the Chairperson of the AU Commission in October 2014. Since then it has not been made public.
The AU Peace and Security Council will consider the situation in South Sudan and the report of the Commission of Inquiry on 29 January.
The organizations also called on the AU to insist that there be accountability for violations of human rights and humanitarian law that have taken place in South Sudan. Publishing the report, along with a regional commitment to ensure accountability, could play an important role in deterring further crimes as well as ending the conflict.
“There must be an end to impunity for crimes under international law and human rights abuses in South Sudan,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director, Research and Advocacy. “Not only is justice a right of victims, accountability could serve as a powerful deterrent to those who think they can kill, rape and pillage with no consequence.”
As well as truth and reparations mechanisms, the organisations believe that the AU should consider the establishment of a hybrid court that would provide for South Sudanese and specially trained foreign investigators and judges to continue the investigations conducted by the Commission of Inquiry and to try those suspected of responsibility for crimes under international law.
“Given the pervasive weaknesses in the administration of justice in South Sudan, credible and independent investigations and prosecutions will require robust international involvement,” said Drissa Traoré, Vice-President of FIDH. “Efforts should simultaneously be made to strengthen South Sudan’s criminal justice system.”
SOURCE: International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)