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'Shocking disregard of civilian life' in South Sudan

29 January 2016


High-level: the deputy Permanent Representative of Sudan to the UN, Hamid Hassan, meets Hervé Ladsous, under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, following a Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan, South Sudan and Darfur, on Monday

High-level: the deputy Permanent Representative of Sudan to the UN, Hamid Hassan, meets Hervé Ladsous, under-Secretary-General for ...

THE President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, and his rival, Riek Machar, are directly to blame for killing civilians, and qualify for sanctions, a UN report states.

The confidential report, prepared by the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan for the UN Security Council, was seen by Reuters on Monday. It recommends that the Council place an arms embargo on the country. Both the President and the rebel leader are still in charge of their forces, and, therefore, directly to blame, it says. Reuters reports that a “highly confidential annex” calls for both men to be blacklisted.

The UN panel writes: “There is clear and convincing evidence that most of the acts of violence committed during the war, including the targeting of civilians . . . have been directed by, or undertaken with, the knowledge of senior individuals at the highest levels of the government, and within the opposition.”

The government was responsible for the “vast majority” of the human-rights violations committed since March 2015, the Security Council was told by Payton Knopf, who co-ordinates the panel.

The report lists violations that include extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual violence, and the recruitment of children. It found that almost every attack on a village involved the rape and abduction of women and girls, and that “all parties deliberately use rape as a tactic of war, often in gruesome incidents of gang rape.”

This is the latest in a series of reports documenting human-rights violations in South Sudan. Last week, the human-rights division of the UN in South Sudan warned of a “shocking disregard for civilian life”.

“The constant attacks on women; the rape, enslavement, and slaughter of innocents; the recruitment of thousands upon thousands of child soldiers; the deliberate displacement of vast numbers of people in such a harsh and poverty-stricken country — these are abhorrent practices that must be halted,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said. By the end of last year, almost no one had been held accountable for violations.

A peace deal signed by the two sides in August has been continually breached. The deadline for the formation of a unity government was missed last week, after Mr Kiir increased the number of states from ten to 28.

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