"Do you think we will prosecute ourselves?" No prospects for accountability in South Sudan

war crimes Human rights access to justice South Sudan

This report is based on research by Amnesty International, including through field research in Juba and Bentiu, South Sudan, in March and April 2019, as well as remotely. Amnesty International interviewed 47 legal professionals, including judges, former judges and lawyers, government officials, UN staff, civil society representatives and victims. They were selected for their experience with, and knowledge of, South Sudan’s justice sector. Around 12 of these were women. All interviews took place individually, in English, and in secure locations. Sources based in the East African region were interviewed remotely.

Amnesty International also examined primary documentary evidence, including presidential decrees and orders, reports by government-led investigation committees and court documents. The organization also reviewed over 134 reports and studies by UN bodies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations published between 2013 and 2019, communiqués, resolutions, laws and conventions, and media articles.

Amnesty International sought interviews with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution but did not receive a response to these requests. Letters summarizing the report’s findings and requesting a response were sent to South Sudan’s Office of the President, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Judiciary of South Sudan, and the military justice department on 31 July and 2, 3 and 10 September 2019. At the time of writing, these letters remain unanswered.

This research analyzes prospects for justice for high-level suspects of serious crimes and human rights violations committed since 15 December 2013. It focuses on the civilian and military justice systems, since customary courts in South Sudan do not have jurisdiction over criminal cases, and Amnesty International would oppose such jurisdiction.

Amnesty International thanks everyone who took part in the research, sometimes at personal risk. Names and other identifying details have been omitted to protect identities of interviewees.

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