Interactive Dialogue with the South Sudan Human Rights Commissioners
Statement by the United States of America
as delivered by Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard,
Representative of the United States to the African Union
Human Rights Council 34th session
Geneva, March 14, 2017
Thank you, Mr. Vice President. The United States thanks the South Sudan Human Rights Commissioners for their important report and recommendations.
The Commissioners’ report details grave human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan – including ethnically-motivated killings of civilians and extreme violence against women and children – as well as serious violations of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the report highlights how impunity remains unabated, fueling a crisis that risks spinning further out of control.
We are especially concerned about the Commissioners’ reporting on ethnically-based killing and scorched earth tactics in multiple parts of the country. In particular, ethnically-motivated hate crimes, the targeting of civilians based on ethnicity, and sexual violence are becoming widespread.
Against this backdrop, the South Sudanese government continues its violent crackdown against dissent, including journalists, civil society organizations, and human rights defenders.
The government and opposition forces also continue to obstruct humanitarian assistance, exacerbating a dire humanitarian situation and famine conditions in parts of the country.
The United States agrees with the Commissioners that, in the absence of any semblance of justice and accountability for any violations or abuses perpetrated – including possible war crimes – such unbridled violence could quickly escalate. Concrete steps to halt this downward spiral must be urgently taken.
We strongly support the Commissioner’s recommendation that the Government take steps to fully support the prompt establishment and operationalization of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan in cooperation with the African Union.
We continue to demand unhindered access for the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan and humanitarian actors, and we support the UN’s mandate to protect civilians and to deploy the Regional Protection Force to Juba.
We cannot turn a blind eye to these crimes and suffering. In closing, we ask the Commissioners how to halt the violence, secure peace, and ensure that all those who order, incite or commit violence against civilians are held accountable?