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EU backs release of report on South Sudan war crimes

February 4, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – The chief of European Union foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, has supported the publication of an African Union report about atrocities and crimes committed by the warring parties in South Sudan.

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Thousands of civilians fleeing violence seek shelter at a UN compound in Jonglei state capital, Bor (Photo: UNMISS/Hailemichael Gebrekrstos)

The African Union Peace and Security decided on 30 January to postpone the publication of a report prepared by an inquiry commission on the conflict’s abuses and offer recommendations on justice and reconciliation.

The former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo who chairs the first African commission on war crimes told reporters following the deferral that the decision aims to support the ongoing efforts to reach a peace agreement and to form a transitional government.

“The EU believes that the publication of the Commission of Inquiry’s findings and its recommendations on accountability are necessary to ensure that such violence against civilians cannot be undertaken with impunity,” said a statement released by the EU foreign ministry, European External Action Service (EEAS).

“The people of South Sudan and in particular the victims deserve no less, and it will in the long run enable greater accountability and give rise to more robust political stability,” it added.

Rights groups campaigned for the publication of the report saying it would deter further abuses as the conflict is not yet ended and hinder bringing those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity to account.

The EU diplomatic body further urged the South Sudanese warring parties to conclude a peace agreement saying the over-one-year conflict has been a disaster for the people of South Sudan.

“Leaders of all groups and parties should go beyond short-term interests and build on the initial talks to make the necessary compromises for peace, for the benefit of all the people of South Sudan,” EEAS said.

“It is essential the current negotiations are completed no later than 5 March,” it added.

The strongly worded statement underlined its support for the IGAD-led peace process, but called for a close international involvement in the efforts aiming to bring an end to this conflict which may extend to include more countries.

The EU “supports repeated IGAD and AU warnings that if the two sides continue to violate the ceasefire mechanism or fail to finalise a political agreement, appropriate sanctions will need to be adopted by the international community,” said the three-paragraph text.

Regional experts point to the war in Congo, saying the South Sudan may be the theatre for a direct confrontation between Sudan and Uganda in the short term, and many attract other countries if the conflict takes more time.

The South Sudanese factions of the historical Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed a unity deal in Arusha last month, followed by and another agreement in Addis Ababa on the composition of a transitional government to prepare achieve reforms.

However, little progress has been made towards a comprehensive peace agreement in the new east African country.

(ST)