The head of a Special Protection Unit at the National Police Service has called for the establishment of a hybrid court for South Sudan.
Colonel James Dak says impunity with regards to gender-based violence, alleged genocide during the violence, the abuse of the criminal justice system and the rule of law continue unabated in the country.
The revitalized peace agreement requires the African Union to set up a hybrid court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of committing crimes since the conflict began in December 2013.
Last year, Amnesty International said a delay in the formation of a hybrid court in South Sudan affects the ability to get accurate evidence to hold perpetrators accountable.
Other rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have also lambasted the African Union and the South Sudanese authorities for having made little or no progress at all in setting up the court.
Colonel Dak agrees that expediting the formation of the courts will help bring to justice those who might have committed atrocities since the conflict erupted in December 2013.
“Chapter 5 [R-ARCSS] says that hybrid court has to be established and the perpetrators are to be tried locally here. [This] can change our records,” said Dak.
The Transitional Government has argued in the past that seeking to “out” perpetrators of violence at the time of negotiating peace may discourage them from accepting signing an agreement.
It argued for “peace before justice.”
President Salva Kiir’s last year’s issuance of amnesty to “those who took up arms against the government” was quickly met with rebuke from U.S State Department which said, “any amnesty extended to the opposition and other estranged groups must not absolve it from responsibility for atrocity crimes.”
“We call on the government of South Sudan to honor its commitment to…provide justice for the victims of abuses committed by government forces and other parties to the conflict,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has written a proposal on the formation of the hybrid court, which it believes represents the most viable option for achieving justice in South Sudan.
In the briefing paper, the organization presents key recommendations on the structure and institutional framework of the HCSS, in order to ensure that the court effectively achieves accountability, meets international fair trial standards, has national legitimacy, and incorporates the best practices of other hybrid and ad hoc tribunals.
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