September 4, 2014 (JUBA) – More than 30 South Sudanese and international organisations have signed a petition calling for an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan to prevent further grave human rights abuses.
- Arms and light weapons have been used by both warring parties in South Sudan to commit abuses (Photo courtesy of SSANSA)
The petition is due to be delivered to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating negotiations between the country’s warring parties, on Thursday.
The South Sudanese government and rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar have been engaged in at times brutal armed conflict since mid-December last year after a political split in the country’s ruling party (SPLM) turned violent.
Human rights groups have documented the use of weapons by both parties to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The petition argues that an urgent arms embargo is necessary to halt the supply of weapons to individuals and groups on both sides of the conflict and for the protection of civilians.
“Both sides in this conflict have used small arms and light weapons to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include targeting individuals, including women and children, based on their ethnicity, and killing civilians seeking refuge in hospitals and places of worship,” the petition states.
“As long as these weapons are imported into South Sudan, they are likely to be used to commit further atrocities,” it adds.
As well as imposing its own arms embargo, the organisations are calling on IGAD to request that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposes a comprehensive international arms embargo on South Sudan as well.
“An arms embargo, first imposed by IGAD and then by the UN Security Council, would require every state to take measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms to South Sudan,” the petition said.
“Such an embargo should last until effective mechanisms can ensure that weapons, munitions and other military equipment and technology sent to South Sudan will not be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” it adds.
Amnesty International, one of the prominent organisations to sign the petition, said that since the conflict broke out both warring parties “have used a range of conventional arms and military equipment to facilitate and commit acts such as extrajudicial killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence and the recruitment of child soldiers”.
It says events over the past month, including the shooting down of a UN helicopter in Unity state and continued killings, including of humanitarian workers, highlights the urgency of an immediate arms embargo.
IGAD-led peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, have also been marred by repeated delays and have so far failed to find a lasting political solution to the crisis.