Interactive Dialogue on the Situation of Human Rights in South Sudan

Statement by the United States of America
as delivered by Jason Mack

37th Session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, March 13, 2018,

Thank you Mr. Vice President.

The United States thanks the Commission for its work to address South Sudan’s grave human rights situation, including through essential evidence collection and assigning individual responsibility for alleged violations and abuses.  We commend the Commission on its preservation of over 58,000 documents and hope these will assist in the effort to hold accountable those who may be responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in South Sudan. We also welcome the government’s stated commitment to cooperating with the office of the High Commissioner and mechanisms of this Council.

We are appalled by the level of brutality and the scale of the atrocities documented by the Commission, including reports of ethnically-based killings of civilians; mass forced displacement; arbitrary detentions, denial of food, torture; recruitment and use of child soldiers; and widespread sexual and gender-based violence.

The government and opposition continue to instigate conflict and obstruct humanitarian assistance, making South Sudan one of the most dangerous places to operate worldwide.  We demand unhindered access for UN and humanitarian actors.  We share the UN Panel of Experts’ concerns that elections held in the current context of pervasive insecurity will be illegitimate and likely to further fracture the country along ethnic lines.  The government and opposition need to end their offensive military operations now.

This downward spiral must be halted.

We strongly urge the Government of South Sudan to sign the MOU to establish the Hybrid Court immediately and urge the international community to support mechanisms to hold those responsible for atrocities to account.

Questions for the Panel members:

Would a UN arms embargo help in preventing atrocities in South Sudan?

In addition to signing the MOU, what can be done now to facilitate the establishment of the African Union Hybrid Court?

What do you see as realistic timelines to establish the truth commission and reparations authority?

Thank you.