South Sudan: Human rights groups call for independent investigation into Jonglei violence

Human rights groups have called on the South Sudanese government to establish an independent body to investigate crimes and abuses allegedly committed in Jonglei state following last December’s tribal clashes.  The South Sudan Human Rights Advocacy Association (SSHRA), one of the country’s 23-member civil Society alliance on Saturday has welcomed calls by Human Rights Watch (HRW) for authorities to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the ethnic violence.

“There is a need to urgently form an independent committee to investigate and establish facts behind the attack and counter-attacks in Jonglei”, Biel Butrous, the executive director of SSHRA told Sudan Tribune on Saturday

Butrous said the perpetrators of the attacks must be identified and brought to justice regardless of their social or political status or ethnic backgrounds.

“To stem this horrific cycle of violence, the organizers have to be held to account,” Daniel Bekele, HRW Africa director said in a press release on Friday.

“For speed and credibility’s sake, the government should ask the UN and African bodies for help” Bekele added.

Butrous agreed with Bekele, adding that South Sudan’s national human rights commission, credible civil society groups including the faith based groups, should also be involved.

South Sudan’s government has said it will form a committee comprised of security forces to investigate causes behind repeated attacks in the country’s largest state.

President Salva Kiir in January, while speaking at an official function that witnessed the launching operation of the national identification cards and passports, pledged that his government would work “very hard” to ensure credible investigation into the matter.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the country’s minister of information – who doubles up as the government’s official spokesman – also told journalists at the time that the council of ministers had resolved to form an investigation committee to establish facts behind these attacks.

Several rights groups including HRW have noted that despite repeated promises there has been no apparent progress in investigations or arrests.

Whether the government’s own commission would be independent and credible has been questioned. Many worry – including South Sudan’s President and Vice President – that behind-the-scenes political leaders in Juba and Bor were complicit in the clashes.

Around 140,000 people have been affected by the fighting, which began in December and triggered numerous reprisal attacks.

The Luo Nuer and Dinka Bor have said that they will form a ring around Murle territory in Pibor County. Fighting between the groups killed over 1,000 between June and August last year.

There are fears that next month, the Luo Nuer will lead another attack against the Murle.

By Ngor Arol Garang

February 11, 2012 (JUBA)


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