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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid