Open letter to JMEC on South Sudan’s Hybrid Court
Published: 17 Jun 2016
To: Hon. Chairperson, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) of the Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.
Cc: The Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
17 June 2016
We, the undersigned non-governmental organisations working in and outside of South Sudan, urge you to be un-deterred by an opinion article in the New York Times on 7 June attributed to the President and First Vice-President of South Sudan to forgo establishment of a Hybrid Court. We call on you to utilize all the means at your disposal to ensure that the Transitional Government of National Unity commit themselves to the court’s establishment, and to urge the African Union to press ahead with the court’s development as a matter of urgency.
In your statement to the AU Peace and Security Council on 29 January 2016, you implored the AU Commission to establish the Hybrid Court, stating, “If the legacy of conflict and impunity is to be finally broken in our continent’s newest state, we must also act and not disappoint a new generation of South Sudanese.” This view precisely articulates why the Hybrid Court is necessary not just for holding those suspected of criminal responsibility to account for their crimes under international law, but for rebuilding the nation of South Sudan.
The demand for justice, truth and reparation from the people of South Sudan is growing. For years, the country’s political and military elite have wielded violence for the attainment of their own objectives, against the interests of their people and with full impunity. Yet now, people across the country are expressing strong support for using criminal justice to hold them to account.
The Hybrid Court is just one element of the transitional justice mechanisms that the President and First Vice-President committed to in the peace agreement. But it is a crucially important element. Without the Hybrid Court, the culture of impunity will continue unabated, and the path to peace will be jeopardised. Based on widespread consultations it had with South Sudanese organisations, the AU’s own Commission of Inquiry came to this conclusion itself, stating that a sustainable peace is not possible without holding to account those suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law and human rights abuses committed during the conflict.