A UN human rights expert has called on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to probe into the killing of American journalist Christopher Allen and hold the perpetrators responsible.
Christopher, a young American freelance journalist, was brutally murdered in late August 2017 in the line of duty, but the government has since denied any responsibility.
“The fact that for three whole years there has been no independent investigation into Mr. Allen’s killing sends a very dangerous signal that journalists and media workers can be targeted with impunity,” said Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
The UN expert urged the South Sudanese government and the United Nations to work together and identify the culprits responsible for his killing.
“The governments of South Sudan and the United States can and must take steps to ensure that the circumstances of Mr. Allen’s murder are fully, independently and fearlessly investigated,” she said in a statement.
She appealed to the US security service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to discharge its mandate and obligations by investigating possible war crimes believed to have been committed against Allen.
“The FBI has a duty, both legal and moral, to investigate Mr. Allen’s killing because of well-founded suspicions that war crimes may have been committed by members of South Sudanese forces,” she said.
“Mr. Allen’s murder is indicative of the wider climate of hostility towards journalists in the country,” she said. The rapporteur noted she had written to the South Sudanese authorities on January 30 this year asking about an investigation but had received no response.
The United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, has called for the immediate formation of the AU Hybrid Court for South Sudan to hold accountable individuals accused of having committed acts of sexual violence during the conflict.
“The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary- General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, welcomes the announcement by the Government of South Sudan to establish transitional justice institutions provided for under Chapter V of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), and calls on the Government to expedite their establishment,” the UN diplomat said in its statement.
The Special Representative noted that the timely establishment of Chapter V institutions, including the long-awaited African Union Hybrid Court, which are envisioned to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing responsibility for violations of international law and/or applicable domestic law will be a strong signal that such crimes, including acts of sexual violence will not be tolerated, that those responsible will be held accountable, and that the needs of survivors and communities will be addressed.
The Special Representative further underscored the importance of adhering to the 35 per cent quota for women’s representation in government institutions, including Chapter V institutions, in line with the revitalized peace agreement.
The UN official urged Southern Sudan leaders to devise an approach focusing on sexual and gender-based violence that would undoubtedly address sexual violence committed during the war.
“As the Government of South Sudan moves forward with establishing transitional justice and peacebuilding processes, I call on the authorities to adopt a survivor-centered approach. Survivors of sexual violence, their families and communities have a central role to play”, emphasized the Special Representative.
“My Office stands ready to support the Government and its partners in their efforts to strengthen prevention and response to sexual violence and ensure that the prosecution of these grave crimes takes place in a timely and transparent manner.”
A renown researcher at Human Rights Watch, Nyagoah Tut Pur, has strongly welcome the decision by South Sudan’s leaders to approve the AU Hybrid Court for South Sudan.
“After years of relative silence, South Sudan’s government has finally given approval to establish accountability mechanisms to address the country’s conflict, including a war crimes court in partnership with the African Union (AU),” she said.
“This could represent an important step to bring justice closer to victims and survivors who have suffered brutal crimes with impunity for far too long. However, swift and concrete action is needed to operationalize these mechanisms.”
Last week, the South Sudanese government gave a green light to the long-awaited establishment of the AU Hybrid Court for South Sudan, a step seen as a milestone towards bringing war criminals to justice.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in 2013, Tut has documented human rights violations and possible war crimes on both sides of the conflict, and has been a firsthand witness to some of the horrific abuses committed by the security forces.
“As a South Sudanese who has witnessed and investigated abuses since South Sudan’s war first broke out in December 2013, I cannot exaggerate how critical accountability is to repairing the country’s social fabric and to the healing of victims.”
“All parties to the conflict have committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. Reckoning with South Sudan’s history through fair, credible trials, along with truth telling and reparations, will serve justice to victims and chart the way for future generations.”
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat has commended South Sudanese leaders for approving the long-awaited establishment of the AU Hybrid Court for South Sudan.
“Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat welcomes the announcement by the Government of South Sudan approving the establishment of the AU Hybrid Court of South Sudan as per the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan of 2018,” the AU chair noted in a statement.
Chapter 5 of the agreement (R-ARCSS) states that there should be a triple-track approach to achieving accountability, truth, and reconciliation in South Sudan. These include, the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) and the Compensation and Reparation Authority(CRA).
The African Union hailed the move as a major step towards ending impunity and human rights violations in the country
“In this regard, the Chairperson notes with appreciation that this decision puts an end to the delays in establishing the Court, transitional justice, accountability, reconciliation and healing institutions in order to bring justice and healing to all South Sudanese.”
The AU hopes to cooperate with the unity government to expedite the finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding.
“The African Union Commission looks forward to work with the Government of South Sudan to ensure the finalization and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Court at the earliest opportunity.”
The continental body reiterated its firm commitment to work with the people of South Sudan in their pursuit of peace and stability.
“The Chairperson wishes to, once again, reaffirm the African Union’s continued support to the Government and the people of South Sudan in their search for lasting peace and security in South Sudan.”
The National Salvation Front (NAS), in its latest report, has accused the SSPDF of committing horrific crimes, including rape, forcing children to drink alcohol, and brutally mutilating civilians on ethnic grounds.
The non-signatory group strongly condemned the action and called on the ceasefire monitors to investigate the these crimes and the recent violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in the Equatoria region.
“The Leadership of National Salvation Front (NAS) informs its members, supporters, the people of South Sudan and members of International Community about the latest violation of Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) by the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF),” the group alleged in a statement.
“On 21 st and 22nd December 2020 respectively, a force of SSPDF under Loka West detachment committed heinous crimes against civilians; raping three (3) women, maiming (7) people, forcefully making members of Revival Community of Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) to drink alcohol, looting properties and burning several huts.”
The NAS leadership pointed an accusing finger at the SSPDF for breaching the Permanent Ceasefire by committing serous crimes in different parts of the country including Western Bahr El Ghazal State.
“These crimes are serious violations of Cessation of Hostilities agreement (CoHA) which aimed at protection of civilians and provision of unhindered access to humanitarian assistance. The regime has also been flagrantly violating COHA and committing heinous human rights violation in Western Bahr el Ghazal State killing innocent civilians.”
“The Leadership of NAS condemns in the strongest possible terms these heinous crimes of the SSPDF and the regime of Salva Kiir and holds the SSPDF and the President Kiir responsible for committing ethnic-based crimes in South Sudan. It is very unfortunate and alarming that, these crimes are being committed in full glare while the peace monitors are watching and being indifferent.”
“NAS assures the people of South Sudan that the Movement will continue to struggle for their aspirations and will defend civilians whenever they are subjected to different kind of mistreatment by the regime of Salva Kiir. NAS calls on the people of South Sudan to take charge of their destiny; speak out and defend themselves against criminals of Juba regime.”
“The Leadership of NAS renews its commitment to addressing the root causes of the conflict in the country to achieve sustainable peace to creating a responsible governance system that protects civilians and deliver basic services to the people of South Sudan without ethnic, gender or regional discriminations.”
Nov 13, 2020 (Thessherald)–High-Level Representatives of the European Union have expressed concern about reports of atrocities committed against civilians, and called for an immediate end to hostilities in the Tigray region.
“Ethnically targeted measures, hate speech and allegations of atrocities occurring in Ethiopia are deeply worrying. The demonstration of ethnic groups is a vicious and lethal cycle from which Ethiopia must be spared,” said EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell and Commissioner Janez Lenarcic.
The European Union expresses concern that if the ongoing military operations continue in the Tigray region, a severely worsening humanitarian crisis may be imminent.
“The danger of a major humanitarian crisis is imminent and an immediate de-escalation is needed. All parties should show restraint and reinforce their calls to avoid incitement to hatred and violence.”
The EU officials call on the Ethiopian authorities to abide by international humanitarian law and safeguard the civilian population.
“Human rights and international humanitarian law need to be upheld, including ensuring safe and free movement of civilians as well as a timely, independent, unimpeded and unconditional access of humanitarian workers to most vulnerable.”
Amnesty International documents atrocities
On Thursday, Amnesty International that dozens of civilians have been horrifically slaughtered on ethnic grounds.
“We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians, who appear to have been day labourers in no way involved in the ongoing military offensive,” said Amnesty in an investigative report.
“Amnesty International has verified video footage and photographs that show scores of people were attacked with knives and machetes, with hundreds feared dead, in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region on the night of 9 November.”
“The gruesome evidence shows bodies being carried away on stretchers or strewn across the town of Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) in the western Tigray state of Ethiopia. Amnesty’s Crisis Evidence Lab used satellite imagery to geolocate and confirm the exact location where the crimes were committed.”