News / Africa

Amnesty Int'l: War Crimes in South Sudan

Rev Thomas Agou by the mass grave of 18 women killed by opposition forces in and around St Andrew's Cathedral in Bor in January 2014. © Amnesty International
Rev Thomas Agou by the mass grave of 18 women killed by opposition forces in and around St Andrew's Cathedral in Bor in January 2014. © Amnesty International

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on Amnesty International's South Sudan findings

Joe DeCapua
Amnesty International says both sides in South Sudan’s conflict have committed horrific atrocities against civilians. It says the attacks have been ethnically motivated and amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The rights group has released the results of its investigation called Nowhere Safe: Civilians under Attack in South Sudan.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa Michelle Kagari says deliberately attacking civilians is a war crime.
 
“We found consistently wherever we went – whether it was a conflict area where the government troops were in control or whether it was the armed opposition that were in control – civilians had been specifically targeted. And they had been killed. We found evidence of abductions, evidence of rape, including rape of women, who were pregnant, and young girls, which is an additional crime.”
 
She said there is also evidence of the killing of soldiers, who had laid down their weapons and were no longer taking part in the fighting.
 
There are no safe havens, Kagari said, even in places typically considered sanctuaries.
 
“We found that there was no regard whatsoever to the protection that these places have. And that civilians were being targeted and killed in hospitals, in churches and within the UNMISS bases. And all these are war crimes,” she said.”
 
When fighting started last December, many observers, NGO officials and international leaders refrained from calling it an ethnic-based conflict. But Kagari said that a tipping point has been reached since then. She noted that South Sudan’s own human rights commission said earlier this year that the ethnic-dimensions of the conflict cannot be ignored.
 
“Certainly when we went on the ground that seemed to be the primary motivation for killing. So people were being killed on the basis that they were either Nuer or Dinka or Shilluk. And the political affiliation had certainly become secondary and that would have been a shift maybe as opposed to when the conflict first started in December,” Kagari said.
 
The Amnesty International report said that civilians are frightened and traumatized.
 
Kagari said, “We had one civilian tell us that South Sudan is destroyed. There’s nothing left. Everything they have has been destroyed, which is another war crime. There’s been deliberate looting and razing of villages. And the looting has been so widespread. One person told us that she left in advance of the pro-government forces and when she went back her house was completely cleaned. And this was pretty similar with everywhere else in that neighborhood.”
 
U.N. compounds are sheltering only a small number of South Sudan’s displaced. If they leave those areas, they are subject to attack and gang rape. Kagari said UNMISS forces lack the capacity to protect civilians just outside compound walls.
 
“We would like UNMISS’ mandate to change so that there’s much stronger focus on protection of civilians. And we would also like the Security Council resolution that was passed in December to be fully enforced so that UNMISS has the capacity to ensure protection of civilians.”
 
Most of the hundreds of thousands of displaced South Sudanese are in the countryside.
 
“They are not able to plant. Now, if they are not able to plant – they are not able to get their foods in – really we’re looking at famine being inevitable if they are not able to plant by the end of this month,” she said.
 
The rainy season is making many roads impassable, meaning food truck convoys cannot reach those in need.
 
She said both the African Union and U.N. should investigate and document cases of potential war crimes. But evidence may be washing away.
 
“We are concerned that with the rains evidence of these crimes is being lost. We already found that a number of sites where there had been mass killings bodies had already been buried and the evidence is already being lost. So, we are really concerned that investigations should be expedited in order to ensure that there is accountability for these crimes,” said Kagari.
 
Amnesty International said, “All parties to the conflict must immediately cease all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law – and allow unfettered access for humanitarian assistance to those in need.”

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid