Juba, South Sudan 5 April 2022
The Government of South Sudan has launched public consultations for the establishment of Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) at a colorful function attended by Government officials, United Nations agencies, civil society, religious leaders, the academia, diplomats and development partners.
The outcomes of the consultations will inform the drafting of a legislation for the establishment of the CTRH which is one of the transitional justice mechanisms provided for in the revitalized peace agreement.
The launch was presided over by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and graced by the 1st Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and the four Vice Presidents namely, Dr. James Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior and Hussein Abdelbagi Akol. Also present was the Chief Justice of the Judiciary of South Sudan Chan Reec Madut, the Speaker of the National Parliament Jemma Nunu Kumba and Nicholas Haysam, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in South Sudan among other dignitaries.
In his remarks, President Salva Kiir underscored the need for reconciliation before the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and the Compensation and Reparation Authority, which constitute the other two transitional justice mechanisms provided for in the revitalized peace agreement.
“In light of the challenges that we are currently facing, what we need the most is reconciliation before the next step of pursuing justice. We need community healing first. Rather than devoting our energies on dettering specific acts of violence through criminal prosecution, we need to use reconciliation and forgiveness to eradicate the culture of impunity”, he said.
On his part, Dr. Riek Machar welcomed the process describing it as “a critical part of peace building process to address the legacy of conflict.” He thanked President Salva Kiir for supporting the reconciliation process and welcomed the recent signing of an agreement on the unification of forces saying that it ushered in a peaceful environment that will enable the countrywide public consultations.
In agreement, Nicholas Haysam, the Special Representative of the Secretary General also welcomed the launch of the public consultations noting that it demonstrates government commitment to accountability, truth and healing. He expressed optimism that the process will contribute to “a stronger and harmonious society.” He also called for the expeditious implementation of the outstanding provisions of the revitalised peace agreement.
Difficult but worthwhile process
On his part, Justice Ruben Madol Arol, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs urged leaders at all levels including state governors, administrators, community leaders to support in the mobilization of the people during the consultations.
Mr. Jelte van Wieren, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to South Sudan warned that the process of truth telling, healing and reconciliation is difficult but none the less, it is a valuable undertaking,
“We should not underestimate the challenges that this process will have to endure. It will not be easy. Speaking truth to power; speaking about pain and hurt; seeking reconciliation and healing, are all difficult steps to take…it is however essential for any country coming out of war, whose people have the desire and ambition to move to a peaceful future together.”
Government and other speakers acknowledged the technical and financial contribution of UNDP to the process.
The Ambassador commended UNDP for the long and trusted partnership with the Government of the Netherlands, which “has been supporting the Rule of Law efforts of UNDP in South Sudan for many years now. It is due to their technical support that donors like ourselves can be here and see progress being made in the processes that can lead to the growth of a country and the flourishing of its people,” he said.
As part of its wider programme offer, UNDP is supporting the establishment of support groups to empower victims participate meaningfully in the truth, healing and reconciliation process, increasing access to justice through the establishment of mobile courts among others, and addressing GBV cases.
Government urged to expedite implementation
With 10 months left of the envisaged 36 months of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGONU) before elections, Maj. Gen Charles Tai Gituai (Rtd), the Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission urged government to expedite implementation of outstanding provisions of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. “These include the permanent constitution-making, judicial reforms, enactment of key legislation, and restructuring and reconstitution of Institutions and Commissions at the national level. I therefore reiterate my appeal to the RTGoNU leadership to consider preparing a strategy on how it intends to implement the remaining outstanding tasks within timelines, considering the remaining period before the end of the Transition period in Feb 2023,” he said.
Other participants called for a genuine engagement that is victim centered, promotes societal reconciliation, considers psychological dimensions of the conflict, engages people and victims of abuse, captures their experiences, views and concerns that can be used to design a commission tailored to the context of South Sudan.
The conflict in South Sudan has led to an influx of refugees to neighboring countries such as Uganda, DRC, Ethiopia and Kenya. Ms. Alokiir Malua Aguer, the vice chairperson of the 33-member technical team that was instituted by government to lead the public consultations revealed that her team will also visit and interact with South Sudanese in refugee camps in neighboring countries.
About UNDP South Sudan Access to Justice, Security and Human Rights Strengthening Programme
The UNDP Access to Justice, Security and Human Rights Strengthening Programme is supported by the Kingdom of Netherlands, Government of Japan, the Peacebuilding Fund, the Resilience, Stabilization and Recovery Trust Funds for South Sudan and its core resources. The programme seeks to strengthen the capacity of key justice and security actors including the Ministry of Interior, Police, Prisons, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Law Review Commission, Human Rights Commission and Judiciary by reducing case backlog; addressing prolonged and arbitrary detention; harmonizing traditional and formal justice sector; and increasing access to justice for the people of South Sudan and promoting a culture of human rights respect.
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.