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

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    China Seeks On-Off Switch for Internet

    Public asks whose security is cybersecurity law aiming to protect

    UN Human Rights Chief: Burundi May Explode Into Ethnic Violence

    Burundian government accuses the UN of a campaign of distortion

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora