US, human rights watchdog urge hybrid court for South Sudan


The United States has joined calls for South Sudan to set up a hybrid court to try those who have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The calls gained traction after President Salva Kiir granted amnesty, last week, to “those who waged war against the government” in the largely ethnic conflict that began in December 2013.

The US State Department has urged the Juba government to set up the hybrid court to ensure justice is served for those who have carried out such mass killings of civilians. The Human Rights Watch has also made similar calls.

“The United States is deeply concerned by the lack of accountability for human rights violations and abuses as well as violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan,” a State Department official said in response to a query by The EastAfrican.

“We call on the government of South Sudan to honour its commitment to establish the hybrid court for South Sudan to provide justice for the victims of abuses committed by government forces and other parties to the conflict.”

The US official, who commented on condition of anonymity, added that “any amnesty extended to the opposition and other estranged groups must not absolve it from responsibility for atrocity crimes.”

South Sudan has a history of protecting suspected perpetrators of international crimes from prosecution, HRW points out. A de facto blanket amnesty was extended after the 22-year war that ended in 2005 and resulted in South Sudan’s breakaway from Sudan.

“South Sudan’s history of unaddressed abuses in conflict and even in relative peacetime, following inter-communal violence, has resulted in anger and ethnic divisions that undoubtedly fuelled the brutality that the South Sudanese have endured in the past year,” HRW states.

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