May 17, 2021 (NAIROBI) – The United Nations Security Council must ensure a range of human rights benchmarks are met before the embargo on South Sudan can be lifted, a rights body said.
- Arms and light weapons have been used by both warring parties in South Sudan to commit abuses (Photo courtesy of SSANSA)
Amnesty International, in a statement issued Tuesday, said lifting the arms embargo on South Sudan could have dire consequences for human rights.
These, the rights body said, should include an end to crimes under international law, reform of the National Security Service (NSS), and the establishment of a Hybrid Court to ensure accountability.
“South Sudan’s hard-won independence 10 years ago has sadly not resulted in respect for human rights. State security forces repress freedom of expression including media freedoms and both state security forces and armed groups continue to violate international humanitarian law, in some cases amounting to war crimes, with impunity,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“When the Security Council assesses keeping or lifting the arms embargo on South Sudan, it must, at a minimum, set the bar at halting these violations and ending impunity,” she added.
On May 27, the Security Council will vote to decide on the arms embargo.
The Security Council vote comes in the wake of allegations that South Sudan government continues to fail to protect civilians from being killed, displaced, and raped by armed groups and militias.
Amnesty International said it documented incidents of continued fighting between government troops, former opposition forces and a rebel group in the southern Equatoria region in 2020, which resulted in extrajudicial executions, torture and forcible displacement of civilians and destroyed civilian property.
According to rights group, South Sudan’s security situation remains volatile and implementation of the peace agreement has been delayed, adding that allowing more weapons into the mix by lifting the arms embargo would be a poor decision, especially knowing that the embargo was violated as recent as last year.
“If South Sudanese leaders are serious about an end to violations and sustained security, they must establish the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and the other transitional justice mechanisms that they agreed to in the 2015 and 2018 peace agreements,” said Jackson.
In May last year, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending for a year an arms embargo on the world’s youngest nation, a travel ban and financial sanctions for targeted individuals