By Kidega Livingstone
The independent experts of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan will make a five-day visit to the nation this week, the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner has said.
The visiting mission, which will be led by Chairperson Yasmin Sooka along with the colleagues, Barney Afako and Carlos Castresana Fernandez, runs from February 12th to 16th, 2024.
The visit comes at a critical time in South Sudan, as the country’s transition period under the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement nears an end, with a new constitution and national elections planned for December 2024.
The team will meet government officials, survivors of human rights violations, members of civil society, jurists, United Nations agencies, and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
According to the Human Rights Office in Juba, the experts plan to discuss the human rights situation in South Sudan, including the Commission’s latest findings and recommendations.
Later, the commissioner will wrap up their visit by convening for a press conference.
The Commission will present its latest findings on the human rights situation in South Sudan to the United Nations Human Rights Council in early March 2024 in Geneva.
The Human Rights Watch report indicates that authorities in South Sudan failed to ensure accountability for grave violations. Impunity continued to fuel violence, with civilians bearing the brunt of widespread attacks, systematic sexual violence against women and girls, the ongoing presence of children in fighting forces, and state-sponsored extrajudicial killings.
The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan is an independent body mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Since it was first established in March 2016, it has been renewed annually. Its three commissioners are not UN staff; they are not remunerated for their work as commissioners, and they have served independently in their capacity as experts.
They are supported by a secretariat based in Juba. The Commission is mandated to investigate the situation of human rights in South Sudan and to make recommendations to prevent a deterioration of the situation with a view to its improvement.
The Commission is also mandated to determine and report the facts and circumstances of human rights violations and abuses, including by clarifying responsibility for crimes under national and/or international law.
The Commission’s finding is informed by independent interviews conducted with victims and stakeholders.