21st April 2021
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Rights group urges S.Sudan to expedite Hybrid Court formation

Author: Emmanuel J Akile/Koang Pal | Published: Saturday, February 27, 2021

Civilians flee violence in Yei River State | File Photo

The Human Rights Watch has called on the government of South Sudan to recommit itself to the establishment of the hybrid court.

The body says the revitalized government should immediately sign a memorandum of understanding with the African Union to expedite the formation of the special court.

This is after the UN Commission on Human Rights also urged the African Union to unilaterally establish the hybrid court for South Sudan.

In a report released last week, the UN body said the continued failure by the leaders to address accountability has engendered marginalization and exclusion at all levels.

This, it said, is because the interests of victims of atrocities committed since the 2013 conflict are being held hostage by the intransigence of South Sudan’s authorities.

It believes this is breeding resentment among affected communities and fueling cycles of violence and conflict.

The commission’s report revealed that several areas in South Sudan have witnessed a massive escalation in violence perpetrated by organized tribal militias, fueled by the failure to implement the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

In an exclusive interview with Eye Radio, the International Justice Program Associate Director says the establishment of the court should not be delayed further.

“There is no question that the government faces many challenges but it’s just that the issue is agreeing to work on the establishment of the court to sign the memorandum,” Elise Keppler said.

“The AU is ready to help in that, the AU is ready to work on the location for the court to start with appointing officials, cash funding. In fact, we have been given a grant by the United States government to help establish the court so what is needed from the South Sudan parties really is a willingness to push on but is not an economic commitment, it’s not at this time a capacity commitment so it’s really a question to see that justice will be done.”

The 2018 revitalized peace agreement stipulates that there shall be a hybrid court in South Sudan with the aim of holding war criminals accountable in the conflict which has killed nearly 400,000 people and forced 4 million South Sudanese to flee their homes.

It authorizes the African Union in collaboration with the government of South Sudan to set up a special court to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of committing crimes from December 2013.

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