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UN rights body defends violation reports

By William Madouk


Amidst mounting criticism, the United Nations Human Rights Commission has defended legitimacy of its violations report on South Sudan.

Human rights violation reports on the country have attracted accusations from the government that they are fabrications lacking truth.

But the commission’s chairperson, Yasmin Sooka said they have held meetings with the President, First Vice President, cabinet ministries, and other government bodies to explain the nature of their work.

“I made it clear to them (government officials) that we don’t write these reports in hotel rooms, sometimes, these are some of the things that are said in the public arena,” she said on Friday last week.

She added that ‘all governments dispute reports which deal with human rights violations record.

“In fact, even in the most advanced society in the world when it comes to universal sporadic review or Human rights council they dispute the finding of independent experts,” she cited.

“I pointed out that we have a term on the ground going around South Sudan, particularly to the troubled spots in South Sudan…we speak to a wide spectrum of overall players, so when we gather our information, it is actually based on testimony, evidence that has been collected forensic work and a lot of analysis of what is appearing on open sources,” she explained.

Meanwhile, UN Human Rights Commissioner Barney Afako stated that it was not surprising when governments or states disputed human rights reports.

“It is not only in South Sudan that it happens, they get sensitive about any express or implied criticism of the conduct, that is something we have to deal with,” he added.

Mr. Barney said violation reports are based on findings from unbiased experts in every given year about the human rights situation in the country.

“Perhaps, what you are referring to is that the pattern seems to remain the same, if our reports look the same it is because the situation on the ground is not changing.”

The human rights experts emphasized that there is still sexual violence, and inter-communal clashes adding that there is still repression of civil society, and media as well.

“What we try to do with our recommendation is to highlight those areas that are important for the government to address, for example; the establishment of the transitional justice institutions to deal with perpetrators,” Barney stated.

Besides, the UN Commissioner Carlos Castresana Fernández cited that, “We recommended in 2016 that they need an urgent independent judiciary, we insist on kind of recommendation in the report of 2014 because the recommendations are not been implemented.”

He added that they insist on recommending the same because they think it is essential for the democratic transition of South Sudan.

On March 2023, minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro accused the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan of compiling a ‘concocted’ report in a frantic push for regime change.

Lomuro criticized the UN Commission on Human Rights under Yasmin Sooka for incessantly distorting the country’s image for their own ‘clandestine’ agenda.

“Year in and out, we are been disrepute by the report of the Human Rights Council in Geneva and by UNMISS and various other clandestine organizations including NGOs that claim of misreport of human rights in South Sudan,” Lomuro responded after the release of the report.

“The human rights council specifically the office of the commissioner of human rights in South Sudan and her staff continuously preyed on the reputation of the country for their employment and other purposes such as sanctions, arms embargo and regime change.”

Also in October 2023, the Government Spokesperson, Michael Makuei, responded to a UN Human Rights investigative report by stating that the majority of reports released are reprints of earlier findings.

“One, this so-called Human Rights Organization who is monitoring us, these are people who just cut and paste without any changes, there is nothing new about that, their reports are very clear and all the time they are systematic,” he alleged.

“And if you pay great attention to them, you’ll see that nothing has changed from last year’s report—instead, it is the same,” he added.

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