South Sudan: As civilian disarmament takes place, UN urges respect for human rights

6 April 2012

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan today urged South Sudanese security forces to ensure human rights are respected as the civilian disarmament process takes place in the country's Jonglei state.

While the disarmament process has largely been peaceful and orderly, there have been reports of human rights violations in a number of disarmament locations, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a news release.

“We are very concerned about these reports of human rights violations during disarmament and have conveyed this to the Government,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson.

“We are nevertheless encouraged by the actions taken to make sure that the alleged perpetrators are held to account. UNMISS will be closely monitoring the follow-up to these incidents. Those responsible must be brought to justice,” she said.

The reported violations include alleged beatings, mistreatment and harassment of civilians when security forces have conducted house-to-house searches. There have also been cases of civilians arbitrarily detained, abuse in detention, and a few reported individual cases of sexual violence and individuals being shot.

UNMISS stated that the reports indicate that the human rights violations seem to be individual and random cases rather than systematic, but stressed that conducting the disarmament process in a peaceful manner is vital to end the cycle of violence in Jonglei. “This is even more important now that the process moves into a more challenging phase,” said Ms. Johnson.

As part of its human rights and protection mandate, UNMISS is monitoring the disarmament process. So far, more than 27 monitoring missions have been conducted by UNMISS across the state.

From its monitoring to date, UNMISS said that, overall, the process has largely been orderly. “I welcome the Government of South Sudan's leadership and effort in this regard, and call for continued restraint,” Ms. Johnson said, adding that UNMISS will continue to closely monitor the situation.

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