Violence against civilians has continued, resulting in regular killing and injuring of civilians, cattle raiding and looting of property. These incidents of subnational violence, although historically rooted in South Sudan, have “taken on an increasingly militarized character.” While violations against children appear to be on an overall decline in 2020, children continue to be victims of all six grave violations, with almost half of children recruited and used in combat roles. In February 2020 the parties to the Revitalized Agreement signed and endorsed a comprehensive action plan to end and prevent all grave violations against children, yet the delays surrounding the formation of the Government bodies and the outbreak of COVID-19 affected the implementation.
Sexual violence and other forms of violence against women and girls have also continued. The closure of schools since March 2020 as a COVID-19 measure has reportedly led to a high rate of early child marriages, teenage pregnancies and sexual violence. The full scale of sexual violence is believed to be underreported.
Capital punishment is legal, and in practice it extends to juveniles, despite this being unconstituional. Some prisoners of war and political detainees have been released. However the space for civil society, journalists and human rights defenders, remains heavily constrained, with recurrent arbitrary arrests and detentions. There is both censorship and self-censorship in the country’s media.
There have been this year some positive developments, especialy in the second half of 2020, when a number of convictions in military and civilian courts for gang rape and rape. In December 2020 South Sudan officially inaugurated the country’s first Gender Based Violence and Juvenile Court.
South Sudan has not had a national election since the year before independence. The year ended without the completion of the long-due appointment of the unifiedgovernance bodies foreseen by the Peace Agreement . Moreover, delayingtactics by majority parties did not allow the start of the constitutional review process, one of the pre-requisite for free and fair elections at the end of the transition period.
In 2020, humanitarian needs have remained high, aggravated further by unprecedented heavy flooding.Attacks on aid workers have continued. Humanitarian access in some areas has been hindered by violence and COVID-19 movement restrictions. In December 2020, the international reports confirming that 60 percent of the country’s population face either a state of official food crisis or worsening food insecurity.
It is estimated that approximately 1.5 million people are internally displaced and 2.47 million have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries. Close to 200,000 people are living in six UN 'Protection of Civilians' (POC) sites across the country. In September 2020, the UN announced the transition of two POC sites to camps for internally displaced under the protection of the South Sudanese authorities, raising fears of increased vulnerability.
Human Rights Division, United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Quarterly Brief on Violence Affecting Civilians January-March 2020. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/SS/Quarterly_brief_on_violence_affecting_civilians.pdf