South Sudan’s cabinet on Friday authorized the minister of justice and constitutional affairs to begin the process of establishing a hybrid court and other institutions set out in the 2018 peace deal.
South Sudan descended into civil conflict nearly three years after gaining independence in 2011. The government, led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, was pitted against the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces, led by former Vice President Riek Machar Teny. The conflict resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands and the displacement of more than a million. A peace deal was signed in 2015 under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. The deal collapsed in 2016, leading to renewed conflict. The Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) was signed in September 2018.
Chapter five of the R-ARCSS required the transitional government to form the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, and a compensation and reparation authority. The court will be responsible for investigating and prosecuting persons found to have violated international law during the conflict. The court shall consist of judges and personnel from South Sudan and other African countries.
The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan expressed concern in October over the use of starvation as a war tactic by both the government and the opposition and the delayed implementation of an inclusive and holistic transitional justice process.
The African Union has welcomed the decision by South Sudan, seeing it as a major step towards restoring peace and stability in the country.