UN human rights chief urges South Sudan to end violence and human rights violations News
UN human rights chief urges South Sudan to end violence and human rights violations

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Tuesday urged the South Sudanese government to protect civilians from ongoing violence and human rights violations. Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, High Commissioner Volker Türk expressed concern for the safety of citizens in South Sudan in the midst of escalating armed conflict and continuous breaches of human rights.

Türk said, “Despite calls for a ceasefire and the implementation of the Peace Agreement, conflict and clashes across the country are resulting in a raft of human rights violations and abuses against its people.”

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan reported that in 2022, 1,600 people were killed, 988 injured and 501 abducted. There were 714 documented incidents of violence affecting 3,469 civilians, and 380 women and girls were reported victims of conflict-related sexual violence.

The Upper Nile and nearby states of South Sudan have faced an alarming surge of armed conflict between armed groups and rival community-based militias since August 2022. The country has suffered from flooding, chronic political instability and the impacts of COVID-19, causing what Türk referred to as the “greatest [humanitarian need] on the African continent.” The commission reported that 8.9 million people require critical humanitarian aid and 2.2 million have been displaced.

The commission commented on the South Sudanese government’s involvement in inciting violence and civil unrest, and reported that state actors are the “primary perpetrators of serious crimes.” Armed conflict and attacks on civilians persist because, according to the commission, “perpetrators are confident they will enjoy impunity.”

The Türk stated that South Sudan’s “civic and political space is shrinking dramatically,” with journalists and human rights defenders facing harassment, intimidation and abduction. Censorship has become an imminent risk ahead of potential general elections, and citizens have reported facing exclusion from governance processes. The UN has urged the South Sudanese government to uphold their international human rights obligations by protecting citizens from violence, addressing violations of human rights and investigating those responsible.

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, established by the Human Rights Council in 2016, continues to report on violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes. The commission was mandated on a one-year term, however has been extended each year due to ongoing human rights breaches amidst armed conflict.