AU commission releases report of atrocities in South Sudan

AU Commission releases accounts of abuses against government and rebels in South Sudan since escalated crisis in 2013

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

The AU report details horrific crimes said to have been committed by both sides of the conflict

The African Union (AU) has released a report accusing the South Sudan government and rebel forces of extreme violence since the beginning of crises among the two factions in 2013.

The AU commission which was established under the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had found both sides guilty of perpetrating brutal killings, abduction of women, mutilations, rape and forced cannibalism among other abuses, majorly against civilians who were not taking part in the conflict.

"The commission believes that war crimes were committed in Juba, Bor, Bentiu and Malakal."

Also Some witnesses in capital, Juba, told AU commission members that they had seen people forced to drink the blood and eat the flesh of killed people. 

They spoke of seeing the perpetrators "draining human blood from people who had just been killed and forcing others from one ethnic community to drink the blood or eat burnt human flesh".

Although, the report has not identified any sign of genocide committed by the two groups.

More than 20 months of civil war, claimed tens of thousands of lives, displaced 2.2 million people and caused 4.6 million to suffer food shortages.

In August, a study by United Nations experts revealed abuses committed by South Sudanese soldiers against civilians, especially women and children.

War-torn South Sudan’s situation has worsened since a cease fire deal agreed last month, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 

A political conflict between President Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar accusing him of a coup attempt, plunged the newly formed country into a battle in December 2013. 

However, the report did not believe Riek Machar’s account of an attempted coup against President Kiir sparking the conflict: "From all the information available to the Commission, the evidence does not point to a coup."

Also the report identified the subsequent killings of Nuer soldiers and civilians in Juba were "committed pursuant to or in furtherance of a state policy" as part of "an organized military operation."

Riek Machar’s rebels were accused of committing the same atrocities but, the fact that the AU commission rejects the President Kiir's coup claim, and hold his forces responsible for committing extreme violence against civilians might be difficult for the government to end the conflict. 

Violence perpetrators to face Justice

AU commission has urged internationally backed, African-led court to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.  

South Sudan Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told BBC News that, “those who committed the atrocities detailed in the report should be brought to justice.”

However, he said there was "inconclusive evidence" that his government was involved, and it was an allegation he "cannot accept."

"I'm not categorically denying that there are limited violations that individuals might have inflicted," he said, adding those responsible would be "brought to book." 

"It is not sanctioned by the government, it is the individual that might have taken the law into their own hands," he said.

He said South Sudan will establish its own commission of inquiry to investigate the cases of violence. 


TRTWorld and agencies