UN calls for probe into killings of civilians

UN calls for probe into killings of civilians
Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-Special General’s Representative and head of UNMISS addresses a past event. He is urging the government to deal with costly violence in parts of the state. [Alex Bullen, The City Review]

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has urged the government to probe the recent killings of civilians across the country.

There has been an increase in armed violence in recent months across the country, mainly in Eastern Equatoria, Unity, Warrap, and Jonglei states. Recently, three people were brutally killed in Kajo Keji County by alleged suspects of the South Sudan Peoples Defense Force (SSPDF), which sparked criticism from the public. 

Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNMISS, said holding those guilty accountable for their crimes was critical to breaking the cycle of impunity.

He was speaking at the 23rd meeting of the Revitalised Joint Monitoring Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) in Juba on Thursday.

Nicholas added that the country’s prolonged bloodshed has sown divisions among communities and inflicted pain on innocent women, children, and men, particularly through Sexual Gender-Based Violence.

“The alarming scale of sub-national violence, particularly in Eastern Equatoria, Unity, Warrap, and Jonglei states, continues to sow divisions among communities and unleash suffering on innocent women, children, and men, including through SGBV,” Haysom said.

The UNMISS chief held the government responsible for de-escalating tensions, protecting its citizens, and ensuring safety and security at all levels of the country. 

“It is the primary responsibility of the South Sudanese government to deescalate tensions, defend its people, and maintain safety and security at all levels of the country,” he said.

However, he applauded the government’s decision to establish high-level investigating committees to probe the violence.

Nicholas revealed that the UNMISS has offered logistical support to the government after the recent confrontations in Leer, Unity, and Magwi, Eastern Equatoria, to facilitate government-led investigations. 

UNMISS led a visit to Bentiu, Leer, and Mirmir earlier this month with diplomatic officers to show sympathy with the local people and condemn violence against the villages. 

Apart from the inter-communal violence, UNMISS said ‘‘the persistent climate shocks and concomitant repeated floods threaten the livelihoods of the vast majority of the already vulnerable women and children.’’

He called on the stakeholders to strengthen partnerships and prioritise the needs of the people.

“The people of South Sudan deserve to reap the benefits of peace and progress,” he added.

Probe launched

On Monday, the national assembly established a five-member committee to investigate the murders of three young men in Kajo Keji County. 

The area MPs also demanded the removal of the commander of the forces deployed in Kajo Keji.

Also, the Central Equatoria State government had formed a similar committee to probe the killing of a soldier and three civilians in Kiri Boma, Kajo Keji County.

The fact-finding five-member security committee is led by Central Equatoria State’s Minister for Peace Building, Francis Gerald.

“Emmanuel Adil Anthony, through a 

In a gubernatorial Order No.14/2022 issued on Thursday, Governor Emmanuel Adil Anthony directed the committee to investigate the motive behind the killings, establish claims of the arrest of civilians by SSPDF, and identify perpetrators of the alleged crime and the bereft families of the three deceased civilians.

The committee is expected to report back to the governor within seven working days.