News / Africa

South Sudan War Crimes Alleged

The tuberculosis ward at Malakal Teaching Hospital, South Sudan, Tuesday, July 1, 2014, where many of the murdered people were getting treatment. The hospital has been looted. Patients were shot in their hospital beds, medical and humanitarian staff killed, and medical facilities were destroyed in fighting.(AP Photo/Matthew Abbort)
The tuberculosis ward at Malakal Teaching Hospital, South Sudan, Tuesday, July 1, 2014, where many of the murdered people were getting treatment. The hospital has been looted. Patients were shot in their hospital beds, medical and humanitarian staff killed, and medical facilities were destroyed in fighting.(AP Photo/Matthew Abbort)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on alleged war crimes in South Sudan

Joe DeCapua

A rights group says it has documented acts of violence and cruelty in South Sudan that amount to war crimes. Human Rights Watch has released a new report called South Sudan’s New War.

Listen to De Capua report on alleged war crimes in South Sudan
Listen to De Capua report on alleged war crimes in South Sudani
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The 92 page report documents abuses since fighting broke out last December between government forces and rebels. Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of the group’s Africa Division, “We conclude that based on the research that we’ve done with more than 400 victims and witnesses of abuses that both sides have committed war crimes. And very possibly these may amount to crimes against humanity. So very serious crimes under the laws of war.”

One of the worst incidents documented, she said, occurred between December 15th and 18th of 2013.

“We documented how over the course of the next couple of days government forces, mainly Dinka members of the government forces, went house-to-house rounding up people of Nuer ethnicity. Detained between 200 and 400 men in an old police station in Juba and killed most of them.”

The Human Rights Watch official said at least a half dozen men – some of whom had been shot – survived by hiding under dead bodies. The report contains their testimony on what happened. Lefkow says there were many other incidents.

“In several of the key towns where the fighting took place over the last six months – places like Bor, Malakal, Bentiu – there were horrific crimes against civilians by both sides. Often people were targeted because of their ethnicity -- again by both sides – were killed in hospitals – were shot at as they were fleeing. Elderly people were killed in their homes because they were disabled or couldn’t flee. So, really horrific violence that continues at a lower level perhaps right now, but to this day,” Lefkow said.

When the fighting first erupted, many observers and analysts were reluctant to label it as an ethnic conflict. Not now.

She said, “I think looking back there’s no question that the ethnic dimension to this conflict is very clear. I think in the early days it was unclear whether it really was ethnically-driven violence. And also there was a lot of concern about catalyzing ethnic violence by describing it that way. But I think seven months on, it’s very clear that many of these killings have been based on people’s ethnicity.”

However, she added there have been a lot of crimes based on economic motives, too, such as looting. Lefkow said there’s no evidence at this time that any of these alleged crimes were officially sanctioned by either side.

Human Rights Watch is calling for a “comprehensive arms embargo” on South Sudan and “targeted sanctions on any individuals responsible for serious violations of international law.”

“The bulk of the violence in this conflict has been directed at civilians. You know, there’s been some fighting between the warring parties, but the majority of the violence has been directed at civilians,” said Lefkow.

The report calls on South Sudanese leaders at peace talks in Addis Ababa to commit to a justice process – and agree that no amnesty be given for serious crimes.

Lefkow said an African Union commission of inquiry is currently in South Sudan. It’s expected to report its findings of alleged crimes within a few months. However, she said, no one appears to be protecting and collecting the forensic evidence needed for possible criminal prosecutions. 

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More