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investigation and prosecution of crimes

Date Snippet Page
2014/06/15 A US report is released which finds that GRSS has ‘not demonstrated any will or capacity’ to investigate atrocities or hold perpetrators accountable. It recommends (among other things) a new internationally-driven investigation mechanism. See Biblio item on ‘Assessment of Justice, Accountability and Reconciliation Measures in South Sudan'. The report's conclusions are broadly endorsed by a US State Department official. Snippet: A US report is released which finds that GRSS has ‘not demonstrated ....
2014/06/26 An interim report is submitted by the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan. It was originally due to have made a final report by now, but it requests an extension due to various practical problems and delays, and the perceived need for inclusive consultations. Meanwhile it reserves any conclusive and definitive pronouncement on the question of criminal accountability. Snippet: An interim report is submitted by the AU Commission of Inquiry on Sout....
2014/05/23 156 people are reported dead in clashes between youth from Rumbek North and Cueibet Counties, Lakes State, according to police. The dead are mainly from Waat and Panyar sections. Many died in an ambush when returning home with raided cattle. Communities do not co-operate much with police investigations. A peace conference had started by 27 May. Snippet: 156 people are reported dead in clashes between youth from Rumbek Nort....
2014/05/27 The UN Security Council renews the mandate of UNMISS (up to 30 November) and requests a sharper focus on protection of civilians, monitoring and investigation of human rights, and support for humanitarian assistance and ceasefire arrangements. Snippet: The UN Security Council renews the mandate of UNMISS (up to 30 Novembe....
2014/05/16 The AU Commission of Enquiry on South Sudan takes an ‘initial position' on the prosecution of leaders accountable for atrocities. It is 'leaning towards the creation of a hybrid court along the lines of the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal', to be established jointly by the AU and UN. It takes this to be compatible with a recent call by the UN Secretary-General. Snippet: The AU Commission of Enquiry on South Sudan takes an ‘initial positi....
2014/05/16 In his SPLA Day address to the nation President Kiir says that nobody who murdered can claim that it was to support him or the government. They must be identified by the Human Rights Abuses Investigation Committee and sentenced to death. Snippet: In his SPLA Day address to the nation President Kiir says that nobody ....
2014/05/12 The UN Secretary-General, speaking to the Security Council, backs the idea of a hybrid tribunal to try cases of atrocity during the rebellion in South Sudan. He also urges donor nations to support the 20th May donor conference in Oslo. Snippet: The UN Secretary-General, speaking to the Security Council, backs the ....
2013/12 to 2014/05 Peter Adwok Nyaba, former Minister for Higher Education, was arrested shortly after the alleged coup attempt of December 2013, and remained under house arrest without being charged as of May 2014. Snippet: Peter Adwok Nyaba, former Minister for Higher Education, was arrested ....
2014/05/08 UNMISS releases a landmark report on atrocities during the 2013/4 rebellion, which contends not only that war crimes have taken place but that these are systematic enough to indicate crimes against humanity. It recommends that if GRSS continues not to provide an adequate system of legal accountability then the international community should set up a hybrid or special tribunal. Snippet: UNMISS releases a landmark report on atrocities du....
2014/05 Yei police arrest three men dressed in women’s clothing, which the Yei Police Chief Commissioner says is a crime. The men are later tried in the customary court and released for lack of clear evidence against them. The court warns girls against dressing in tight clothing which may incite crime. Snippet: Yei police arrest three men dressed in women’s clothing, which the Y....
2014/05/03 Salva Kiir and Riek Machar both showed lack of concern about the risk of famine, while prioritizing their personal power struggles, says the UN Human Rights Commissioner, reporting to a meeting of the Security Council after visiting both leaders in South Sudan. She warned the leaders that investigations will examine how far they and their colleagues 'either knew, should have known, or failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity'. She points out that UNMISS still lacks agreed funds and personnel which are 'desperately needed'. Snippet: Salva Kiir and Riek Machar both showed lack of con....
2014/04/29 The UN Secretary-General speaks by phone with President Kiir, stressing the need for an urgent end to fighting, prosecution of the perpetrators of atrocities, and urging him to call a halt to the negative campaign against UN staff. Snippet
2014/04/29 The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Envoy for the Prevention of Genocide meet rebel leader Riek Machar and receive assurances that he is investigating human rights violations among his forces, and is concerned about protection of civilians. But they seem to hint that the pressure of accountability for human rights violations will be reduced if peace is achieved. Snippet
2015/04/25 A press release from SPLM-in-Opposition denies its forces carried out targeted killings of civilians in Bentiu. It accuses GRSS and its allies in JEM of killing civilians before they left the town in order to frame the rebels. It also denies any official broadcasting of hate speech, while conceding that individuals might have expressed anger during talk shows. It accuses UNMISS of getting the story from GRSS and not investigating independently. Snippet 1870
2014/04/25 The special court trying four alleged coup-plotters agrees to stay the case on the request of the Justice Ministry 'in order to promote peace and reconciliation among our people'. Pagan Amum says the four will now work on making national peace. Presidential spokesman says the rebels can no longer demand realease of the four as a precondition of talks. President Kiir says the four are now 'free like any citizen in South Sudan'. But he also orders that they should not leave the country, saying that they are needed for reconciliation, and that the case against them is stayed but not cancelled. Snippet 1865
2014/04/23 President Kiir dismisses James Hoth Mai as SPLA Chief of General Staff, and replaces him with the Governor of NBGS, Paul Malong Awan. Kiir also dismisses Mac Paul as chief of military intelligence and replaces him with Marial Nuor. Marial Nuor was in 2011 charged with a variety of crimes including corruption and abuses of military power, but has apparently not yet been tried. Snippet 1863
2014/04/22 The UK Foreign Office Minister for Africa states that 'those in positions of influence in South Sudan' will be held accountable for atrocities if they incite them. Snippet
2014/04/19 Over 100 people were killed in a cattle raid in a remote area of Warrap State, according to a local information minister. 85 of the dead were alleged attackers being pursued by police and soldiers. Snippet
2014/04 A top police officer of Wau is shot dead in Tombura after allegedly defecting to Riek Machar's rebel movement and attempting to smuggle arms. Snippet
2014/04/15 to 2014/04/16 Over 200 civilians were murdered in Kali-Ballee Mosque and other places when rebels linked to SPLM-in-Opposition captured Bentiu, according to UNMISS investigations. The murder involved separation of different categories of people, largely on ethnic lines, but also targeting people who failed to show allegiance to the rebels. The UN vows that the killings will further investigate the atrocities and that 'perpetrators and their commanders shall be held accountable'. UNMISS managed to extract some other hundreds of people from the situation. Snippet 1839
2014/04/18 to 2014/04/20 Reactions to the recent attack on the Bor UN compound by local youth: *Jonglei governor John Kong Nyuon deplores it and vows that the state government will investigate and take measures against the perpetrators. *National information minister Michael Makuei, claims the attack was provoked when UNMISS forces fired warning shots. *President Kiir calls it an ‘irresponsible act by irresponsible people’. *UN Security Council expresses outrage and warns that such attacks against civilians and peacekeepers 'may constitute a war crime'. Snippet 1827
2014/04 The new NPPR (National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation) initiative intends to establish a 'body of truth' by engaging many different parts of society, hearing individual and community grievances going back many years, documenting them systematically, aiming to develop a 'new culture of honesty, openness and truth', which can then support other processes of engagement with powerful actors. Snippet
2013 At least five chiefs are dismissed during 2013 by the acting governor of Lakes State, Matur Chut Dhuol. The main reason is failure to arrest suspects in inter-communal killings. But the chiefs say this is the job of police. Snippet
2014/04/11 Jonglei State Governor acknowledges that looters in Bor town during the recent crises included civilians and GRSS forces. He asks police to arrest suspects. Snippet
2014/04/04 Vice-President Wani Igga asserts that the government's peace negotiations with rebels will end with a general amnesty. Snippet
2014/04/01 In the trial of four treason suspects, interior Minister Aleu Ayieny is dropped as a prosecution witness after failing four times to appear before the court. Snippet
2014/03/20 52 member of the US Congress sign a letter to State Secretary John Kerry urging US pressure and assistance in establishing hybrid courts to try perpetrators of gross human rights abuses in South Sudan. They also urge resumption of USAID work, particularly in supporing food security in order to avert famine. Snippet
2014/03/18 GRSS has orchestrated a 'negative campaign' against UNMISS, claims the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. The incident of wrongful land transportation of weapons was exploited for this campaign, but GRSS refused UNMISS's offer of a joint investigation. Snippet
2014/03/19 Peter Adwok Nyaba, who was detained like seven other suspected coup plotters in December, but released within a few days on account of his longstanding war injuries, remains unaware of whether a case is being made against him. Snippet
2014/03/18 The focus of UNMISS is being changed, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations tells the Security Council. Until the crisis of rebellion is resolved, UNMISS will no longer seek to help extend the authority of the state, but take five other priorities: 'protecting civilians; facilitating humanitarian assistance; monitoring and reporting on human rights; preventing further inter-communal violence; and supporting the IGAD process as and when requested, and within available capabilities'. He requests the Council to raise the number of UNMISS soldiers to 12,500. Snippet
2014/03/17 The European Union (Foreign Affairs Council) discusses the crisis in South Sudan. Among its conclusions it expresses alarm at a 'significant risk of famine', it encourages further investigations into the causes of the conflict and the perpetrators of crimes, and says it 'stands ready to consider targeted restrictive measures against individuals obstructing the political process'. Snippet
2014/03/14 The SPLA spokesman reveals that 120 suspected SPLA criminals (detained after mid-December killings) escaped from detention during fighting at HQ barracks on 5th March. Snippet
2014/03 A cattle-camp youth in Lakes State claims that government investigation and enforcement of compensation can break the cycle of violence in cattle raiding, but that the government has not kept its promises in this regard. Snippet 1599
2014/03/11 The trial begins of four principal alleged coup plotters - Pag'an Amum, Oyay Deng, Majak d'Agoot and Ezekiel Gatkuoth Lul - on charges including treason. The prosecutor asks for the trial to be held in secret; the judge says a decision on that is premature. Snippet 1595
2014/03 The Directorate of Wildlife warns that poachers will be prosecuted, and armed poachers will be shot if they do not lay down their guns. Two suspected poachers are brought to court in Juba, but one claims he had bought the bushmeat from soldiers. Snippet
2014/03/07 The AU announces the formation of the previously-promised commission of inquiry into human rights violations committed in the armed conflict since mid-December 2013. It is composed of high-profile members led by former Nigeria president Olesugun Obasanjo. Snippet 1565
2014/03/02 Taban Deng, chief negotiator for rebels in Addis Ababa talks, claims Salva Kiir publicly ordered the killing of Nuer in a national TV address (wearing military uniform) on 16th December. Deng also admits that some rebels have killed civilians and must face the law for it. Snippet
2014/02/22 A press release from Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ) notes delays and lack of transparency in human rights investigations launched by the AU and GRSS since the outbreak of rebellion in December 2013. It calls on GRSS to facilitate rather than obstruct human rights investigations by South Sudanese human rights organizations. Snippet 1446
2014/02/06 President Kiir says ICC will be facilitated if it wishes to investigate alleged atrocities in South Sudan (although RSS is not a signatory to the Rome Statute). Snippet 1443
2014/02/19 Ugandan army says it will not participate in investigation into the use of cluster bombs in recent fighting in South Sudan. Snippet
2014/02 Foreign affairs minister Barnaba Marial says 100 soldiers have been detained on suspicion of engaging in ethnically-motivated killing after the alleged coup. 'The perpetrators must be...genuinely brought to justice,' he adds. Snippet
2014/02 President Kiir decrees the formation of a Human Rights Abuses Investigation Committee under Justice John Wol Makec to investigate allegations of targeted killings and human rights violations amid the rebellion of 2013-2014. Snippet 1406
Reference Mini-review
ABA Rule of Law Initiative, 2014/06. Bibliography item: ABA Rule of Law Initiative (2014/06) "Assessment of Justice, Accountability and Reconciliation Measures in South Sudan". (Report). American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. [Report] American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. Accessed online.

21-page report. Probably the most authoritative assessment so far that GRSS has failed seriously to investigate the atrocities since December 2013 or move to prosecute perpetrators. Reporting fears that the AU Commission of Inquiry might deflect such investigation and prosecution, the report calls for a new mechanism involving professional investigation teams with a UN Chapter VII mandate. It also calls for international reinforcement of the National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation (NPPR) initiative. (The report was funded but not necessarily endorsed by the US State Department.)

UNMISS, 2014/05/08. Bibliography item: UNMISS (2014/05/08) "Conflict in South Sudan: A Human Rights Report". (Report). United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan. [Report] United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan. Accessed online.

This report is an important landmark in the progress of investigation and accountability for atrocities during the 2013/14 rebellion. It provides the most detailed and comprehensive view so far of these. While acknowledging that it does not yet meet the level required for prosecutions, it strongly makes the case not only that war crimes have taken place, but that these are systematic enough to indicate crimes against humanity. The RSS law system should be strengthened to deal with these cases and if GRSS does not provide this then a special or hybrid international tribunal should be formed.

David K. Deng, 2014/05. Bibliography item: David K. Deng (2014/05) "Special Court for Serious Crimes (SCSC): A Proposal for Justice and Accountability in South Sudan". (Report). South Sudan Law Society. [Report] South Sudan Law Society. Accessed online.

This 12-page working paper is an important step in developing the idea of using a hybrid court to try people responsible for gross atrocities in the recent violent conflict. It considers many practical implications of the idea and creates a solid framework for further discussion and action. Its key recommendations are: (1)  Include language in a peace agreement providing for justice and accountability; (2) Prohibit amnesties for international crimes; (3) Educate people about the court; (4) Assess national capacity to administer a hybrid court; (5) Adopt regional and international treaties.

Amnesty International, 2014/05. Bibliography item: Amnesty International (2014/05) "Nowhere Safe: Civilians Under Attack in South Sudan". (Report). Amnesty International. [Report] Amnesty International. Accessed online.

This 68-page report covers events of the December 2013 rebellion and subsequent fighting up to around March, from a human rights point of view. It is based partly on an investigative mission which took place in March. Without being a final definitive account, it adds weight and illustrative vividness to previous accounts of atrocities by forces of GRSS and rebels, and also a useful narrative of the flow of events. It also demonstrates a pattern of impunity for atrocities under GRSS going back to 2005, in which governmental institutions prove unwilling or unable to yield results.

Daniel van Oudenaren, 2014/05. Bibliography item: Daniel van Oudenaren (2014/05) "Peacekeeping under attack in South Sudan". (Article). Radio Tamazuj. [Article] Radio Tamazuj. Accessed online., Accessed online.

This three-part article is more gripping and incisive than its title suggests. It argues that UNMISS could and should have adopted a less cautious and defensive strategy. After the debacle of Akobo on 19 December, when some of its soldiers were captured and two killed, it focussed on protecting its own bases and the civilians sheltering there when atrocities were happening nearby. It's public statements seem to have been subdued in the face of intimidation by GRSS.

William Eagle, 2014/04/31. Hybrid Court Suggested for South Sudan [Article] Voice of America. Accessed online.

This short article goes some way towards developing the idea of using a hybrid court - combining international and domestic law and personnel - to try leaders accused of crimes in the context of the December 2013 rebellion and subsequent civil war.

Jok Madut Jok and others, 2014/04/28. The Release of South Sudan’s Political Detainees and the Prospects for Peace [Report] The Sudd Institute. Accessed online.

In this 7-page weekly review, the Sudd Institute welcomes the government's order to stay the trial of four alleged coup-plotters as a concession in the peace process, although it recognizes the arguments that its curtailment of the case could have been to save its own embarrasment at an acquittal and does not demonstrate full commitment to the rule of law.

Eric Reeves and John Prendergast, 2014/04/19. Preventing Genocide in South Sudan [Article] South Sudan News Agency. Accessed online.

Ahead of the US State Secretary's visit to the peace talks in Addis Ababa, the international community is urged to help avert a greater catastrophe in South Sudan by: (1) increasing international forces in the country; (2) negotiating cross-line routes for humanitarian aid under a respected international figure; (3) ensuring punishment of indivuals who commit war crimes, through targeted sanctions (not only by the US but a coalition of countries), creation of hybrid courts, and referrals to the ICC; and (4) more support to the peace process and participation of opposition and civil society. 

Awak Bior and others, 2014/03/31. [Letter to African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan] Re: Initial Recommendations on the Implementation of the Mandate of the Commission of Inquiry [Operating document] South Sudan News Agency. Accessed online.

This clear-visioned open letter from members of CPJ (Citizens for Peace and Justice) gives advice to the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, and sets out 'Five Pillars of a "Just Peace"'. The advice is about: (1) stakeholders in civil society who should be engaged with; (2) need for the Commission to communicate with the public; (3) suggested first steps when they arrive in South Sudan. The 'Five Pillars' are: (1) Truth before forgiveness; (2) Justice is non-negotiable; (3) Reparations: A Transition from Victimhood to Citizenship; (4) Institutional reform; (5) Memorialization.

Tongun Lo Loyuong, 2014/03/20. Making sense of the surge in anti-western sentiments in South Sudan [Article] Radio Tamazuj. Accessed online.

This article, by a US-based South Sudanese policy analyst, argues that recent public criticisms and demonstrations against UNMISS and Western actors in South Sudan are orchestrated by GRSS as 'a defensive political ploy meant to discredit these actors and their subsequent indictments as a “colonial agenda,” “politically motivated” and so on....The fear and paranoia from the impending international justice and accountability for the tens of thousands of lives lost in this violent conflict can...be negotiated and a compromise win-win solution for all can be reached in the roundtable'.

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