South Sudan: Both parties must commit to ensuring justice for atrocities

“Silencing the guns and signing accords is not enough…” Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s East Africa deputy director

The signing of a peace agreement today by the Government of South Sudan is a vital step in ending the violence and addressing the massive human suffering in the country but Amnesty International warned that a lasting peace will require both parties to ensure accountability for atrocities committed during the conflict.   

Amnesty’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa said:

“Both sides must uphold the terms of the peace deal in order to ensure that immediate steps are taken to bring those responsible for crimes under international law to trial and provide full reparations to victims.

“Silencing the guns and signing accords is not enough – if South Sudan is really committed to ushering in a new era of peace and accountability, the international community must remain vigilant and take concrete steps to ensure accountability. The UN Security Council, the African Union and South Sudan’s neighbours have a crucial role to play to ensure that mechanisms established during the peace process are successfully implemented to bring perpetrators to justice.”

Background

The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat announced yesterday that the Government of South Sudan would sign the proposed peace agreement to end the conflict that has ravaged the country in a mini-summit in Juba today.

The conflict between the Government of South Sudan led by President Salva Kiir and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in opposition (SPLM/IO) led by former Vice President Riek Machar has gone on for more than 20 months.  It is widely accepted that both parties to the conflict have committed violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights abuses, including mass killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction and recruitment of children into their forces, burning and looting of civilian infrastructure, and obstruction of humanitarian assistance.

The first deadline for signing a peace agreement, 5 March 2015, passed with no agreement.   The second deadline on 17 August saw the agreement signed by the SPLM/IO and a group known as the Former Detainees, but not the government.   

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