S SUDAN: UN Condemns Violation of Media Freedom

JUBA SEPTEMBER 16, 2016 (CISA) – The UN Commission on Human Rights has expressed concern over the harassment of journalists, intimidation of civil society activists, sexual violence and other rights abuses in the country.

“The continued intimidation and harassment of journalists,” alongside concerns about restrictions on the UN mission UNMISS and aid organizations that prevent them reaching the needy said Yasmin Sooka, who led the UN commission team.

Officials from the commission were speaking at a news conference in Juba on September 15, a day after a prominent newspaper in the country had been shut down by the authorities. She further decried, “the diminishing space for civil society which includes intimidation and harassment of its members,” adding that many activists have fled abroad.

Fighting erupted in South Sudan at the end of 2013 between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing his former deputy Riek Machar. A peace deal signed in 2015 proved shaky and fresh clashes flared again in the capital in July.

Machar has since left the country. Sooka also cited “the ongoing impunity and lack of accountability for serious crimes as well as human rights in South Sudan, without which lasting peace cannot be achieved.” Sooka also voiced concerns about “the escalation of sexual violence against women and girls, perpetrated by armed men in uniform.”

Members of the commission, established in March 2016 to report on the rights situation since war flared in December 2013, said they met senior government officials, and proposed “the establishment of the hybrid court” to deal with abuses.

The African Union led hybrid court aimed at trying war crimes committed during the conflict could include lawyers and jurists selected by the international community.

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