News / Africa

UN: Possible War Crimes in South Sudan

A boy who suffered severe burns to his leg is tended to by a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) doctor at the United Nations Mission to South Sudan base in Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 12, 2014.
A boy who suffered severe burns to his leg is tended to by a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) doctor at the United Nations Mission to South Sudan base in Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 12, 2014.
Margaret Besheer
A senior U.N. human rights official said Monday that “thousands” of people have been killed in the violence in South Sudan and some of the worst human rights violations may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic visited the troubled nation last week. He said the situation is “quite grim” and he recited a long list of abuses, including killings, summary executions, sexual violence, burning, looting and the use of child soldiers.

“I hope that in a of couple of weeks we will be releasing a report which will contain some initial results of investigations. So far we do have some evidence and we have some allegations that have not been sufficiently investigated," said Simonovic. "Already we can say that both sides have been involved in incidents of violations of human rights.”

Simonovic said his initial report may not be able to identify alleged perpetrators -- that may take more time. He also noted that the African Union has suggested a Commission of Inquiry be established to investigate abuses and address root causes of the conflict.

Violence erupted in the young state in mid-December, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup, a charge Machar has denied.

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