July 01, 2014

ABA ROLI Releases an Assessment of Justice, Accountability and Reconciliation Measures in South Sudan

July 2014

In June, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) published an assessment of existing and potential justice, accountability and reconciliation measures that could be utilized in response to the atrocities committed in South Sudan since December 2013. Conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), the study was undertaken to provide a qualitative, cross-sectional snapshot of the current situation in South Sudan. In addition to gathering information from secondary sources, the three-person assessment team also interviewed approximately 50 key stakeholders based in Juba, South Sudan; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Nairobi, Kenya. Participants included government authorities, religious leaders, academics and community leaders, as well as representatives from South Sudanese civil society organizations, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and the African Union Commission of Inquiry, among others.

The report found a deep-seated culture of impunity to be a root cause of the current crisis and called for accountability, at all levels, for the atrocities committed in the country. Recommendations include combining support for an international justice intervention, such as a hybrid court, with efforts to reconstruct the national justice sector, whose current capacity is very limited. The report also encourages the preservation of evidence through efforts to document human rights abuses and a coordinated process for investigating high-level perpetrators of atrocity crimes.

From June 11–13, members of the assessment team shared their findings during a series of meetings including with representatives from the U.S. Institute of Peace, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Watch and Humanity United. Since the report’s release, DRL’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Steven Feldstein mentioned the report in his July 15 posting to the U.S. Department of State’s official blog, and there has been broad media coverage of the report by Radio Tamazuj, allafrica.com and other outlets.

To learn more about the assessment, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.