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January 21, 2014

AU to Investigate South Sudan Human Rights Violations

by Peter Clottey

The chairperson of the African Union (AU) is setting up a panel to investigate gross human rights violations in South Sudan following recommendations by a special summit of the organization’s Peace and Security Council, says Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, AU commissioner for political affairs.
 
Abdullahi says the AU will continue supporting the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) led mediation efforts to find a solution to the conflict, which has left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.
 
“The AU chairperson madam Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is setting up the panel and the terms of reference of the panel, the composition of the panel are being discussed,” said Abdullahi. “But, what is clear is that it will be an African-led and an African driven commission. It will be a constructive engagement to address the human rights and related issues in South Sudan.”
 
Abdullahi says the panel would also focus on addressing reconciliation efforts in South Sudan between the warring factions in the conflict in a bid to stabilize Africa’s newest nation. 
 
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called for the prosecution of perpetrators of human rights violations in South Sudan.
 
Dlamini-Zuma recently met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir in the capital, Juba, as part of the AU’s effort to push for a ceasefire agreement to end the conflict.
 
The warring factions have yet to agree to a cessation of hostilities in spite of regional and international pressure.
 
Abdullahi expressed the AU’s concerns about the violence.
 
“For example in South Sudan, in about two weeks over 1,000 people were killed. This is a very serious issue.  And not only the AU, the world as a whole is concerned about the killings, the violations and the instability in this very young country. And that is why we do all we can to ensure that stability is returned and peace and prosperity is ushered into that country,” said Abdullahi.
 
But, some observers have criticized the AU of not being effective in resolving the security situation to save lives and property. They also contend that the AU has failed to put pressure on the warring factions to agree to a ceasefire at the ongoing peace negotiations in neighboring Ethiopia.
 
But, Abdullahi disagreed saying the chairperson of the AU recently met President Kiir to find a solution to the crisis.
 
“Madam Zuma was in Juba and is trying to address those issues,” said Abdullahi. “But, it is not the AU alone we are [supporting] IGAD that covers the Horn of Africa, it has been very active in ensuring that there is peace and reconciliation and an end to the violence. Most importantly, this is something that we are engaged in all the time.”