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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid