US, Britain Push for War Crimes Court in South Sudan
- Politics & Power
- South Sudan, South Sudan Civil War, South Sudan peace process, War crimes
- Aaron Brooks
The United States and Britain have both pledged to support an African Union (AU) effort to establish a war crimes court in South Sudan.
The hybrid court is part of the country’s failed peace deal, which the country’s reunited leaders are now tasked with implementing. It would try those accused of committing war crimes during the South Sudanese civil war. However, the nation’s leaders have now apparently distanced themselves from establishing the tribunal.
US, Britain reaffirm stance on war crimes court
The South Sudan peace deal, which was signed by former rivals President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar, committed to an African Union hybrid court. The agreement states that no government or elected official could be immune from prosecution. Except, Kiir and Machar apparently called on the international community last week to reconsider the move – claiming it would jeopardise the country’s peace process.
Instead, there was international outcry after the New York Times published an op-ed article, claiming it was co-written by Kiir and Machar. The article calls for a peace process that strives for truth, not prosecution in order to bring violence and political instability to a lasting end.
Machar has since contested he never approved to the editorial, nor agrees with its contents. Meanwhile, Kiir’s government insists Machar had been consulted before the article was written and gave his clearance. It’s another public quarrel between two sides tasked with bringing peace to the war-torn country.
A tight spot for South Sudan’s leaders
A war crimes court would put both leaders in a tight spot, following a string of accusations that human rights violations took place on either side of the civil war they led. A court where no sort of diplomatic immunity exists would at least put various members of the leaders’ supporters under the spotlight. What South Sudan doesn’t need, at this stage, is more of the kind of political in-fighting that started the civil war in the first place, back in 2013.
However, the US and Britain both insist the country needs to seek accountability as part of the reconciliation process.
“Accountability and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive. South Sudan needs both to promote long-term stability,” said a spokesman for Britain’s UN mission.
By U.S. Department of State – http://www.flickr.com/photos/statephotos/8826657534/sizes/o/in/photostream/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26305920