Amnesty International on Saturday called on South Sudan to reform its security services and avoid costly mistakes that led to distrust and war in the past.
Amnesty was reacting to the formation of the new unity government in South Sudan after rebel leader Riek Machar was sworn in as vice president on Saturday in a decisive bid to end a war that has killed over 40,000 people in the world’s newest country.
Amnesty said since the peace agreement was signed in 2015, South Sudanese authorities have blocked the establishment of the Hybrid Court of South Sudan (HCSS).
“During more than six years of conflict, civilians in South Sudan have been displaced, raped, maimed, tortured and killed. Security forces, including the intelligence agency, and armed groups including those allied to both President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have committed atrocities with impunity,” said Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena.
“Since 2013, the authorities have failed to investigate and prosecute crimes under international law in relation to the conflict. They also failed to amend the 2014 National Security Service Act and reform the security service leaving the abusive institution to operate unchecked.
“For accountability and justice to be done, this government must re-commit to working with the African Union to set up the hybrid court agreed to in previous peace agreements and ratify the requisite laws to make it operational. It must also amend the National Security Service Act to rein in the overly-powerful agency, which has arbitrarily detained and tortured hundreds of people since the crisis began.”
In 2011, South Sudan became the world’s newest country after seceding from Sudan, its neighbor to the north. However, just two years later in 2013, the rivalry between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Machar exploded into the open. The violence quickly spiraled out of control and snowballed into a full blown war.
Since then, attempts to unite the country and end the war have been slow, with each party giving some pre-conditions before a final agreement could be signed.