UN inquiry finds ‘impunity’ a central driver of violence in South Sudan News
UN inquiry finds ‘impunity’ a central driver of violence in South Sudan

A UN human rights commission Monday reported horrific human rights violations in South Sudan. The report comes amid increased attacks and extrajudicial killings on civilians, which have gone unpunished by Sudanese authorities.

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan conducted a year long investigation across six states of  South Sudan at the direction of the UN Human Rights Council. Yasmin Sooka, chair of commission, detailed how consistent findings have shown impunity as a central driver of violence and misery. The report highlighted different factors that have resulted in serious human rights violations. Among the factors are the harassment of journalists, self-censorship and silencing voices critical of the government.

The report also suggested tackling the issue of impunity to help recover the “deeply damaged fabric of society.” The commission found that corrupt officials in public office are responsible for the alleged human rights violations. The report implied that the conflict in South Sudan is a result of these corrupt officials. The UN Human Rights Council has added a number of these officials to their list of persons of interest. While the report identified about a dozen officials responsible for the atrocities, it specifically called attention to two officials. Those officials were Joseph Monytuil, governor of Unity state, and Gordon Koang, county commissioner of Koch.

Throughout the conflict, South Sudan has seen repeated clashes between military authorities and civilians. In 2022, the commission 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.

In December 2022, UN Secretary General António Guterres supported the commission’s inquiry by focusing on political instability as the main source of human rights violations, like those seen in South Sudan. More recently, on March 7, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk spoke about the ongoing violence in South Sudan and urged the government to take action to protect civilians. 

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.