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

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs