South Sudan to response to damning human rights report

By William Madouk                      

Government of South Sudan, through national Human Rights Council has promised to response to the damning human rights reports by UN rights bodies that cite increasing gross violations.

Yesterday, government began two-day workshop to analyze the two human rights reports by UN Commission on Human Rights and UNMISS – human rights division and give it a robust retort on March 6.   

This comes after the UN experts’ team visited Juba on Feb 14 to 18 to discuss human rights situation, saying that it has documented persistent attacks on civilians with culprits left to scot-free.

Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro said, government decided to have collective answer for the two-damning report at UN Human Right Council – 52nd session in Geneva.

“This time around and as peace settle in, we decided that we are going to have a collective government response to those two reports so that we clear air and correct real situation of human rights in South Sudan,” Lomuro said.  

“We are building a country from zero, so we expect certain weakness within the system and those weaknesses construed to be a government policy to abuse its own citizens after a long period of liberation,” he added.

He also said people thought international human rights workers are honest but that has not been the case, asserting that they are inventing reports for their own benefits and interests.

“They are using us for employment, sanction, regime change and arms embargo for their own purposes nothing to do with the interest of the people of South Sudan,” Lomuro noted.  

“The same with UNMISS- human right division we will have to look at the claims of the trainings and capacity building that they said they have done if they are true or not and we will have a measured response for each of those allegations,” he continued.

Minister Lomuro said UN human rights bodies have been recycling the report of 2013 and 2016, adding that government will study, identify repeated ‘sorry’ stories and update on what have improved.

On his part, the minister of Justice & Constitution Affairs, Justice Ruben Madol Arol said human rights situation in the country has always been the focus globally and regionally.

Mr. Arol said UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan and UNMISS – Human Rights Division are international bodies tasked with human “but again you realize that they have common approach and agenda and that should be starting point to understand what that agenda is, and why.”

“South Sudan of 2023 is not South Sudan of 2013 or 2016 but if you look at the report it’s always that sorry stories of bad days of 2013/2016,” he added.

 “We have to give them the version that we know which the reality in the ground is. More importantly we have to give our people the correct and accurate story of what is happening in South Sudan,” Arol continued.  

According to UN experts, victims and survivors of violence in Upper Nile narrated horrific stories of vicious attacks. Frightened families hid in the bushes for days and had to walk miles to reach safety.

In the past year, the Commission has documented widespread attacks against civilians in several states, including southern Unity State where Government officials led the attacks. Conflicts in Upper Nile State,

It also added that extrajudicial killings also continued, implicating senior State officials, who have enjoyed impunity even where the crimes have been caught on camera.

In June 2022, President Salva Kiir issued a decree forming the Human Rights Council. It is tasked with advocating and promoting human rights across South Sudan.

The council comprises members from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, and Child Protection Unit.

According to the decree, the council will be chaired by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and will be strengthening public outreach advocacy and promotion of human rights within the country.

Furthermore, it added that the council shall be answerable to the president and all its activities and progress reports shall be submitted to the office of the president.

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