- After their release, Prisoners of war line up as they board ICRC plane to Juba on 28 January 2018 (ST Photo)
Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) said the release of the prisoners of war directly impacted on nurturing trust and confidence among the parties for availing political will for genuine implementation of the peace agreement.
“In an honouring manner, we are calling upon parties to do progress in releasing political detainees,” said CEPO’s executive director, Edmund Yakani.
“The progress made on release of prisoners of war is impressive and we hope same progress can be made on release of political detainees,” he added.
Last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the South Sudanese government had released 24 of the country’s detainees as part of ongoing efforts to implement the revitalized peace agreement.
ICRC, which was agreed by the peace parties as the supervisor of the release of detainees and prisoners of war, said the operation was the first releases of prisoners under its control following the signing of the revitalized peace accord.
“Our role in this week’s releases was to first ensure that all detainees were handed over voluntarily and that they had the opportunity to confidentially share their concerns,” said François Stamm, the head of ICRC in South Sudan.
Stamm could not provide the details of the operation, but said ICRC transported the former detainees to different parts of the country when necessary and they examined the detainees’ health condition to ensure they were fit to travel.
Yakani, however, said the demonstration of transparency by ICRC on the progress made on the release of prisoners of war could not go without mention.
“This made our past calls for ICRC to be keeping the public informed on the process of implementation of the peace agreement provision on release of prisoners of war and detainees. Although still we are asking for the disclosure of the names of the released prisoners of war as a strategy of reconciling their family members on the fate of their sons or daughters,” he further stressed.
Meanwhile, CEPO has urged all parties’ signatory to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) to promote non-restrictive civic space for supporting the dissemination of the peace agreement.
“The recent interference of security with civil society process in Jongeli state is disturbing and it is an unacceptable practice, especially the unlawful detention of civil society members,” the civil society body said in a 22 October statement.
CEPO urged members of the national pre-transitional committee during their first meeting to agree on clear mandate or their working Terms of Reference (TOR).
“We calling for TOR that help in promotion of political will, good faith, trust and confidence, transparency, accountability and commitment for timely action for genuine implementation of the peace agreement,” further notes the statement.
On 12 September, South Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar signed in Khartoum a peace agreement with the government to end a civil war, which killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.