Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council
32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
June 22, 2016
The United States welcomed the April 29 formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan as a significant step forward in implementation of the peace agreement. However, we remain gravely concerned about the human rights situation there. We welcome the HRC President’s announcement of the new Commission for Human Rights in South Sudan and look forward to its forthcoming report.
Both sides of the conflict that broke out in December 2013 committed serious human rights violations and abuses, as detailed in the High Commissioner’s report of March 2016. According to the report, atrocities committed included the targeting of civilians and healthcare facilities, extraordinary levels of sexual and gender-based violence, and the widespread unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers. Moreover, dissent is not tolerated, freedom of expression is penalized, and there is an environment of intimidation toward journalists and civil society actors.
The United States believes there is a pressing need for justice and accountability in South Sudan. We fully support the peace agreement’s provision for the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, to be established by the African Union, as well as the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing. We are pleased that the African Union has begun initial preparations to create the court, and we are prepared to support it in becoming the credible and impartial mechanism South Sudan needs to address the worst crimes of the conflict.
The South Sudanese people have made it clear that they consider justice and reconciliation vital parts of the transitional agenda. Ethnic grievance fueled this conflict, and to prevent further conflict, crimes must be addressed in a way that is consistent with South Sudanese values and South Sudan’s international obligations and commitments. We have committed $5 million to supporting justice and accountability in South Sudan.