Activists in South Sudan have petitioned African Union Peace and Security Council to establish hybrid court in the country to try leaders accused of committing crimes since the conflict began in 2013.
The South Sudan Civil Society Forum, a coalition of organisations, in a joint letter addressed to AU Peace and Security Council, has appealed to the council to use the session slated for July 21 to revive the stalled implementation of peace agreement.
The activists also want the African Union Commission to engage the recently formed coalition government in expediting the same. It also urged the AU to take unilateral action to enable the court’s creation immediately.
"Delays in establishing the hybrid court for South Sudan threatens the future of the peace deal and protection of civilians and prevent survivors and families of victims from seeking justice for themselves and their loved ones,” reads the letter.
"The efforts to establish the court would signal the AU’s commitment to implementing its 2020 theme, ‘Silencing the Guns.’’’
Chapter 5 of the Revitalised Peace Agreement stipulates that there shall be a hybrid court in South Sudan, as a key part of the peace deal, aimed at holding war criminals accountable in the conflict that has killed nearly 400,000 people and forced four million to flee their homes.
As per the peace accord, the African Union is to set up a hybrid court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of committing crimes since the conflict began in December 2013.
However, since the formation of unity government, less or little has been mentioned in regard to Chapter 5.
In April last year, there were media reports that the government had hired an American lobby group to improve its relations with the US government, delay and ultimately block the establishment of the hybrid court, among others. The Presidential Press Secretary Ateny Wek Ateny declined to comment on the matter.
In March 2019, the head of the National Police Service Special Protection Unit Col James Dak called for the establishment of the hybrid court as stipulated in the peace deal. He said that gender-based violence and the abuse of the criminal justice system and the rule of law continue unabated in the country.