Violence against civilians persists across South Sudan, according to the latest quarterly Human Rights Brief from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). From January to March 2023, the Mission documented 920 incidents of violence against civilians (including 243 children), during which 405 civilians were killed, 235 injured, 266 abducted, and 14 were subjected to conflict-related sexual violence.
Intercommunal violence by community-based militias and/or civil-defence groups constituted the primary source of violence affecting civilians and accounted for more than 92 per cent (847) of all civilian victims. Much of the violence was generated and documented in Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA), in the conflict which erupted in the beginning of the year. This was followed by Warrap, Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, and Lakes states.
Compared to the same reporting period in 2022, these findings show a 12 per cent increase in violent incidents against civilians, a 113 per cent increase in abductions (from 125 to 266), but a 78 per cent decrease in conflict-related sexual violence (from 63 to 14). The number of people killed as a result of this violence has also decreased.
Disturbingly, there were 22 documented cases of extra-judicial executions between January and May 2023. Of these, 14 persons (including one female) were executed in Warrap State and eight in Lakes State. These executions were allegedly committed by South Sudan security apparatus personnel.
“I condemn these incidents which occur without any due process” says Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in South Sudan. “The Government has previously denounced this practice and, following our engagements, the Minister of Justice has agreed to investigate these allegations” he added.
The Mission urges the Government to speedily investigate the cases of extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations. UNMISS also urges the public release of the findings of the ad-hoc investigation committees established by the President, so that identified perpetrators can be held accountable.
Additionally, the return of more than 100,000 returnees and refugees from Sudan has the potential to generate intercommunal violence as we have seen in Renk and Malakal. UNMISS stands ready to support the Government on more confidence-building measures between communities to prevent this.
The Mission continues to intervene proactively in mitigating violence through peace advocacy, human rights mainstreaming, and community dialogues, in addition to conducting hundreds of monitoring patrols by land, air, and boat. These efforts are backed by the Mission’s continuing political support for the full implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement and the Roadmap, including security arrangements, the constitution-making process, and preparations for elections.
UNMISS also supports the Government in strengthening the justice sector to pursue accountability for serious crimes. The collaboration between the Mission and the South Sudan Peoples Defence Forces (SSPDF) has supported the establishment of mobile general court martials and has led to the conviction of more than ninety perpetrators for serious crimes, including sexual violence.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).