The European Union thanks the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan for its oral update and valuable work.
The EU welcomes South Sudan’s continued cooperation and support to the Commission. We note with appreciation that some positive developments have taken place in South Sudan, such as the significant overall decrease in the national armed conflict and associated hostilities since the signing of the Revitalised Peace Agreement.
The EU, however, continues to remain seriously concerned about the dire human rights situation in South Sudan. We strongly condemn all violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, crimes which are often perpetrated with impunity. Amongst others, they include increased violence at intercommunal level, as well as sexual and gender-based violence. Regarding the latter, we are appalled by the endemic nature of such violence, including cases of rape and exploitation, especially against women and girls, as revealed by testimonies heard by the Commission in the Bentiu area. Addressing Sexual and Gender Based Violence is an EU priority and we, therefore, welcome the Commission’s continued focus on this important issue as well as measures to prevent and respond to sexual and gender based violence such as the establishment of ''One Stop Centres''.
We welcome the Commission’s ongoing efforts to document and collect evidence of human rights violations and abuses and to identify those who bear responsibility for such acts. It is imperative for South Sudan to end impunity and we call on all parties, but especially the Government of South Sudan, with which lies the primary responsibility, to hold perpetrators of violence to account and bring them to justice. The EU strongly reiterates its call for the immediate establishment and operationalisation of transitional justice and accountability mechanisms, including the Hybrid Court to be established under the auspices of the African Union and the Commission for Truth Reconciliation and Healing and Compensation and Reparations Authority. The EU also encourages the utilisation of national, as well as local justice systems in this regard.
Given that the Hybrid Court will deal with the most serious cases of human rights violations, national justice institutions should be strengthened to ensure accountability for all other serious crimes and the EU is providing support in this regard. The utmost efforts must be made to meet the needs of victims and their right to access to justice, and to provide them with adequate protection and support.
Creating an environment that is conducive of a sustainable peace also through upholding rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are of paramount importance and we urge the Government to ensure that civil society and the media can operate freely and without intimidation or reprisals.
I thank you.