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South Sudan starts consultation with experts on transitional justice mechanisms

IANS | May 16, 2023 10:27 AM

JUBA: South Sudan's leaders have started consultations with experts on transitional justice mechanisms to help the country implement Chapter 5 of the 2018 revitalised peace agreement.

President Salva Kiir, who opened a three-day conference being attended by experts from Ethiopia, the Gambia, South Africa and Rwanda, said on Monday that Chapter 5 which calls for the establishment of the critical commission on truth, reconciliation and healing is very important for post-conflict recovery.

He admitted that the two internal conflicts that erupted in December 2013 and July 2016 caused the deaths of thousands of people, and displaced millions, both internally and externally, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Apart from the damages I have outlined above, the two conflicts were also violent to the extent that human rights violations and abuses probably happened. It is for this reason that the revitalised peace agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan provided for Chapter 5 on transitional justice and accountability, " Kiir added in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

He said Chapter 5 provides an opportunity for reconciliation and healing for victims and perpetrators of human rights violations during years of conflict.

"Those who are found guilty will have the opportunity to apologise and ask for forgiveness. The victims will also find the heart to forgive and qualify for compensation and reparation, " Kiir added.

South Sudan is seeking views to enrich two bills already by its Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to establish a commission on truth, reconciliation, and healing, and the compensation and reparation authority.

Kiir said that the establishment of these transitional justice mechanisms is critical for the country to hold credible, free and fair elections planned for December 2024.

He also disclosed that they are much willing to finalise the process of establishing the African Union-led hybrid court to try war crimes committed during years of conflict.

"When the time comes, for the enactment of the bill for hybrid court for South Sudan, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, which is charged with the responsibility to trigger the implementation of these mechanisms in collaboration with the African Union as stipulated in the agreement will update us accordingly, " Kiir added.

First Vice-President Riek Machar said they were supposed to have tackled Chapter 5 in the first three months after the transitional government was established in February 2020.

"We are happy that the technical committee has carried out consultations, and this conference is going to be the final consultation for those who are experts so that we can have legislation to effect the implementation of this chapter, " he added.

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Reuben Madol Arol said that in November and December 2022, they travelled to the Gambia and South Africa to familiarise themselves with the truth and reconciliation processes.

"I received two draft bills from the task force of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for the establishment of the two main transitional justice institutions, which will be shared with experts gathered here to provide their guidance before the bills are sent to the national council of ministers and transitional national legislative assembly for their enactment into laws, " he added.

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