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Amnesty International says South Sudan government committed crimes

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In this photo taken late Friday, July 8, 2016 and released by the UNMISS, villagers huddle for safety from the fighting between buildings near the UN base and compound in Juba (AP Photo)

October 24, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government’s forces are responsible for deliberately killing civilians, raping women and girls and looting property in July in the national capital, Juba, Amnesty International said in a new report launched on Monday.

The report has accused President Salva Kiir’s government of targeting members of the ethnic Nuer from which Kiir’s former deputy, Riek Machar, hails.

“South Sudanese government troops killed men from the Nuer ethnic group, raped women and girls, and carried out a massive campaign of pillage,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.

“These attacks by government forces are further proof of the urgent need to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, with the aim of stopping the flow of weapons, and establish an effective mechanism to monitor compliance. States should not be profiting off weapons that are being used to kill civilians,” the statement said.

The report is released ahead of a field mission to South Sudan by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), scheduled to take place between 28 and 30 October.

Amnesty International is calling on the AUPSC to consider the July violence during its visit, and to take steps to ensure the establishment of an independent hybrid court able to investigate and prosecute these and other crimes.

Based on field research conducted by the rights organization in July, August and September 2016, it details deliberate killings, indiscriminate attacks, rapes and massive looting carried out by South Sudanese forces.

Joy Kamisa, 6-year old, was killed by a rocket shot from a helicopter gunship, which hit her grandmother’s house in Juba’s Gudele neighbourhood, the report said.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Nyamuch died from wounds sustained when a piece of shrapnel hit her in the head. She and several of her siblings, who lived in a protected site specifically designated for civilians (protection of civilians site) at the UN base in Juba’s Jebel neighbourhood, were hit by an explosive device as they tried to flee to the main UN base. Her siblings survived, but were injured.

Biel Gatkuoth, 26, was sitting in his grandfather’s compound when, according to an eyewitness, a “bullet came out of nowhere” and hit him in his right leg, breaking his shin bone. The wound became infected and he died a few days later.

“It is shameful that the South Sudan government can still freely acquire weapons when it has repeatedly used them to commit crimes under international law and human rights violations. The international community must impose a comprehensive arms embargo or risk being seen as complicit in these violations,” said Joanne Mariner.

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

The report also described abuses by armed opposition forces, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO). It details how opposition fighters entered the protection of civilians sites at the UN base in the Jebel neighbourhood several times on 10 and 11 July, at least once in large numbers.

It is not clear whether in doing so the fighters intended to shield themselves from attack or impede military operations—which would constitute the war crime of using human shields—but regardless of their intention, such maneuvers endangered thousands of civilians sheltering in the sites.

Fighting began at the presidential palace on 8 July with an exchange of gunfire between troops loyal to President Kiir and fighters allied to former First Vice-President Riek Machar. Soon government troops were targeting people based on ethnicity and perceived political loyalties.

John Gatluak Manguet Nhial, a 32-year-old journalist with Nuer facial scarring, was shot dead by a government soldier during a raid on the Terrain Hotel on 11 July, as other soldiers tauntingly shouted “Nuer, Nuer.”

A 24-year-old Dinka woman whose Nuer husband has been missing since July told Amnesty International that government troops stormed the family compound and arrested her husband and brother-in-law. When she told the soldiers that the two men worked for the government, she said that the soldiers responded that even if they worked for the government, they were still Nuer and “‘Nuer are rebels.’”

“My life is shattered,” she told Amnesty International, adding, “Life without him is hopeless.”

Soldiers also sought out Nuer women for rape, not only to harm them, but also to humiliate and punish their husbands. A 35-year-old Nuer woman who was raped by three soldiers said the men emphasised: “Your husband is a Nuer man, our enemy.”

Government soldiers, the report added, also raped other non-Dinka women and girls. A member of the Kuku ethnic group described how his two sisters, ages 14 and 17, were raped by soldiers on 11 July at their family compound in Juba’s Munuki neighbourhood. He said that the soldiers, who also looted the compound, accused the family of supporting Machar.

Amnesty International’s research reveals serious failings in the conduct of UN peacekeeping forces. Criticising the UN’s response to the violence as “disappointing and inadequate,” the new report details how UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians from being killed or raped.

A 24-year-old Nuer woman who was raped by five government soldiers just in front of the UN base in the Jebel neighbourhood reportedly said UN peacekeepers and private security guards could see the attack but did not come to her aid.

UN troops also failed to intervene during the attack on the Terrain Hotel, during which several women were gang-raped, even though it was only a kilometre away from their base.

“UN forces faltered in their mission to protect civilians, standing by as people were killed and raped,” said Joanne Mariner.

The new report also criticised the use of military courts to try soldiers suspected of abuses. It concludes that the chronic lack of real justice in South Sudan for crimes such as deliberate killings of civilians underscores the need for the speedy establishment of an independent hybrid court that will have jurisdiction over such crimes.

“These killings and systematic gang rapes must not go unpunished. The government of South Sudan must ensure that they are promptly, impartially and independently investigated and all those suspected of responsibility brought to justice in fair civilian trials without recourse to the death penalty,” it said.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 25 October 07:32, by Eastern

    “It is shameful that the South Sudan government can still freely acquire weapons when it has repeatedly used them to commit crimes under international law and human rights violations. The international community must impose a comprehensive arms embargo or risk being seen as complicit in these violations,” said Joanne Mariner.

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  • 25 October 08:35, by Dengda

    I am sickened of the call of arm embargo sanction, can this sanction stop raping, looting, target killing? How many arms have been stockpiled here? very naive call indeed.Better workout other alternative rather than rely on monotonous. There are already weapon to commit genocide and this issue intervention should be focus and platform to hold government accountable.

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  • 25 October 08:44, by TRUE WATCHDOG

    The report pertaining that government commits crimes is bias,partial and baseless.How would the report that it was government forces that killed,raped and looted when it’s clear that most perpetrators are rebels?Would miss hit someone made a shield by UNMISS harbored rebels who could not come out and fight? No UN is responsible 100% .I can’t entertain their absurd statement!!!

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    • 25 October 08:53, by Mr Point

      Denial of the facts gives you no credit.

      The assault on Terrain hotel was carried out by South Sudan army soldiers who raped aid workers and murdered a Nuer journalist, John Gatluak.

      https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/10/south-sudan-deliberate-killings-by-government-troops-as-un-forces-fail-to-protect-civilians/

      don’t waste time by posting such obvious lies.

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    • 25 October 14:48, by Hardlinner

      watchdog, the article was indeed written by IO members. if it were indeed written by amnesty international, why haven’t they mention the killing of civilians along juba-numile and juba- yei roads by Riek thugs. there been target killing of innocence dinka civilians on those road. so why can amnesty internal condemn that?. it is indeed another lye from james Gatdet Dak.

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    • 25 October 21:37, by Midit Mitot

      Crime against humanity is South Sudan will one day be prove by those criminals.

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  • 25 October 08:51, by TRUE WATCHDOG

    Point of correction! Would bullet miss hitting someone made a shield by UNMISS harbored rebels.That was crossfire and doesn’t mean the bullets might be from gov’t forces rather rebels.Arms embargo has been their westerners toilet paper and won’t clear them well.I am faded up with their in-neutral intervention.Unless the cut hands and genital organs of rebels and criminals they won’t halt raping.

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  • 25 October 08:54, by Mr Point

    Why was it not made clear that 23 years fighting for Independence and that Independence under Salva Kiir would bring a government that loots, rapes and kills civilians?

    Kiir’s big tent encourages political instability to support a corrupt gang of warlords who act like bandits.

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    • 25 October 09:57, by Paul Ongee

      Folks, this report is trying to make two points only:

      1. Looking for ways of how to get arms embargo imposed by influential and powerful countries like TROIKA on South Sudan government only, not rebels of Riek Machar.

      2. Consistently sowing the seed of hatred between Nuer & Dinka, and among South Sudanese tribes as it clearly indicates.

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    • 25 October 09:57, by Paul Ongee

      Folks, this report is trying to make two points only:

      1. Looking for ways of how to get arms embargo imposed by influential and powerful countries like TROIKA on South Sudan government only, not rebels of Riek Machar.

      2. Consistently sowing the seed of hatred between Nuer & Dinka, and among South Sudanese tribes as it clearly indicates.

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      • 25 October 10:01, by Paul Ongee

        It’s up to South Sudanese now to build unity, peace, reconciliation, love and live in peace together or continue to die as fools together. Any report from AI or HRW or is baseless because the financiers see RSS as Syria; they want their interest met first, not South Sudanese interest. Believe me or not. South Sudan will still continue to be as a testing ground for newly-made weapons.

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        • 25 October 10:31, by Paul Ongee

          VOA reported this morning how M7 addressed the celebration of Independence Anniversary of Zambia yesterday that there is a slogan at the UN saying “Africans consume what they don’t produce and produce what they don’t consume.” This means African materials have to be exported first and returned in the form of manufactured goods, citing copper mining in Uganda and Zambia.

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          • 25 October 10:34, by Paul Ongee

            If Africans need copper wire for electrification, they have to buy from western countries while the materials are taken from Africa. Can we not tell the developed nations that “build the factory making copper wires here in South Sudan? If not, then pack and go.” Can this be stopped? Yes. Egypt did a good thing by having these manufacturing industries built in the country, including assembly plants

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            • 25 October 10:49, by Paul Ongee

              Unlike South Sudan, there are African countries that have been stable, peaceful and educationally better off but still don’t have vital factories or oil refinery built. The two populous African countries, Nigeria and Egypt, have been relatively stable and peaceful but Egypt is far better than Nigeria, Why? Egypt must allow RSS to build its own Hydro E. Dams to power industries, not generators.

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  • 25 October 09:48, by Cobbz

    This is disturbing. if its true of which I believe it is then we don’t have a national army but rather an organized national gang group similar to ISIS. why on earth would you do that? I mean for God’s sake, why? you kill,rape,afflict because they belong to a different tribe other than the dinka? and you say you are a national army? SHAME!

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  • 25 October 09:58, by Cobbz

    Hey young fellows, let these old folks not drag us to the grave with them. Can’t we stand up with one voice and say "NO to division, No to discrimination, No to violence? we need a free south Sudan yajama. hate speeches, insults wont help us, we don’t have time anymore. We need peace and yes we can. South Sudan is not about KIIR, not about MACHAR its about all of US. Lets Think!

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    • 25 October 11:01, by Dengda

      Very good point and great pieces of advise to those who have ears to listen.

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    • 25 October 15:07, by Hardlinner

      your point is genuine. if u don’t attack me, how would i attack u. if we all stop backing machar or kiir then peace would prevail. we simply have say to no to war and yes to peaceful vote. nuer and dinka should simply say no to being use by kiir and Riek. if unarmed dinka spla soldier can walk n mingle at area controlled IO and same apply to Nuer IO soldier at Gov. areas, peace will prevailed.

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  • 25 October 14:41, by Hardlinner

    sudan tribune is indeed a back wash of every one. everyone can write article claiming to have been written by any organization. there r allot of false claims in this article. the only genuine part in article is the killing of Nuer journalist and raping of atleast 10 nuer women during july fighting. no civilians were targeted apart from journalist. 95% of those killed were soldiers.

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