When war criminals absolve each other of guilt
No end to violence and impunity in South Sudan (Press Release)
According to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the general amnesty for all armed rebels in South Sudan (imposed on Wednesday) is “inhumane and irresponsible”, and a major setback in the efforts to end impunity and violence. “If the most prominent war criminals in South Sudan are able to absolve each other of guilt, there will be no justice,” explained Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Thursday. “As long as the war criminals in South Sudan are not brought to justice, politically motivated killings, arson, and evictions will continue.”
Last night, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir announced a general amnesty for his rival, Vice-President Riek Machar, and for other armed rebels. Since December 2013, more than 50,000 people lost their lives in clashes between the regular army and militia groups led by Riek Machar. Both parties to the conflict are accused of crimes against humanity and of war crimes.
Last Sunday, government representatives and rebels had signed an agreement in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to divide power in the embattled country. A previous peace plan, signed in August 2015, had failed. The old peace agreement had envisaged the establishment of a mixed international and southern Sudanese court, as a means to punish those who are responsible for the serious human rights violations – but there are no such provisions in the new peace plan.
The United Nations and numerous governments from around the world had pointed out the importance of punishing those responsible – but in vain. In a widely acclaimed New York Times editorial (June 7, 2016) Kiir and Machar had clearly spoken out against any punishment for the perpetrators, as this would “destabilize” the country. According to Delius, this is absolutely cynical, as the armed forces and militia groups under their command don’t even shy away from killing pregnant women, infants, or elderly nuns.
Headerpicture: UN Photo/Isaac Billy via Flickr