UN investigators urge AU to urgently hold perpetrators accountable

The Chair of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has called on the African Union to speed up the establishment of the hybrid court to avoid evidence from being lost.

In March last year, the UN Human Rights Council established the commission with a mandate to collect and preserve evidence of atrocities committed in the country.

This is intended to be shared with the hybrid court, the truth commission and the reparation body that are supposed to be formed as per the 2015 peace agreement.

Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan Chair Yasmin Sooka said thousands of pieces of evidence have been collected and may be invalid if they are not used to hold perpetrators to account.

“Materially, it will be invaluable to a prosecutor one day in proving command responsibility. The continuous collection and analysis of that evidence is critical to the accountability process,” she told the Human Rights Council during an interactive dialogue in Geneva on Tuesday.

“The hybrid court of South Sudan is but a signature away. The African Union needs to act with great urgency.”

In February, the UN Human Rights commission released its first report since it was mandated by the Human Rights Council in March last year.

It said it collected evidence to hold more than 40 South Sudanese officials accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In the 58,000-page document, the Commission has already identified 8 Lieutenant Generals, 17 Major-Generals, 8 Brigadier Generals, 5 Colonels and 3 State Governors who may bear individual responsibility for serious violations of human rights and international crimes.

Ms Sooka said the report focus on “five recent emblematic incidents, established victims evidenced-based and collected linkage evidence in what has been ground breaking work”.