As the year end looms, ISHR executive director Phil Lynch shares reflections on the context in which we operate, the importance of applying a principled, non-discriminatory approach to human rights, and the crucial work of defenders.
During the adoption of the recommendations made to South Sudan in the context of its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), ISHR delivered a statement urging South Sudan to end the systematic attacks and heightened crackdown on civil society, journalists and human rights defenders. The UPR is a process where the human rights situation in each UN Member State is examined by its peers every five years.
‘Defenders and especially journalists are being harassed, intimidated, arbitrarily arrested, and even murdered, with impunity,’ said ISHR’s African Advocacy Director Clement Voulé. ‘Journalists and political opposition have suffered threats, attacks and legal intimidation through the use of overly broad laws, which the Government has blatantly refused to amend in this UPR by rejecting such recommendations,’ Voulé added.
South Sudan conditioned the acceptance of some recommendations and noted several recommendations on human rights defenders arguing that they conflict with national laws, government structures, policies or customs.
‘The obligation to respect and protect the right to life and to liberty and security of the person is not contingent or subject to progressive realisation. South Sudan should not condition acceptance of recommendations on receipt of technical assistance and resources. This is incompatible with international human rights law and South Sudan’s obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Voulé concluded.
In the statement, ISHR made the following key recommendations to the Government:
- Respect and protect the rights to life and to liberty and security of the person, cease attacks against civilians and UN premises, and stop unlawful killings and arbitrary detention of defenders and journalists.
- Establish the hybrid court for South Sudan in compliance with the 10 recommendations calling for its immediate establishment to try those responsible of human rights abuses.
- Investigate on-going violations of human rights and international law to ensure the collection and preservation of evidence, as well as successful prosecutions.
ISHR urged States that highlighted defender protection and civil society space in South Sudan’s UPR to support a resolution which renews the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, established in March 2016 by the Human Rights Council through resolution 31/20.
The Commission is mandated to monitor and assess human rights abuses in the country and provide guidance on transitional justice, accountability and reconciliation issues. ‘The mandate of the Commission should be strengthen to identify the perpetrators of human rights violations, with a particular focus on attacks and reprisals against human rights defenders’ Voulé said.
The recommendations made in the statement reflect those set out in a submission prepared by ISHR to South Sudan’s UPR.
Contact: Mr. Clement Voule, ISHR Africa Advocacy Director on [email protected].
Photo: Flickr / OCHA/Charlotte Cans.
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At a strategic consultation in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the National Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders adopted its 2024 Action Plan to enhance support for defenders amid shrinking civic space and heightened State focus on terrorism.