South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar smiles as he meets his friends at Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir arrived on Friday in Ethiopia’s capital for the first face-to-face talks with Machar to try to end four months of conflict and avert a possible genocide. Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
Juba, South Sudan — In one of two much-anticipated human rights report released Thursday, the United Nations said both sides in South Sudan’s civil war have possibly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and called for international justice.
A striking feature of investigations on the brutal warfare in the world’s newest country is evidence of widespread use of sexual violence, including gang rape and forced abortion, by all parties.
The accusations come as South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar today traveled to Ethiopia for peace talks amid continued fighting.
“From the very outset of the violence, gross violations of human rights and serious violations of humanitarian law have occurred on a massive scale,” reads the UN report. “Civilians were not only caught up in the violence, they were directly targeted, often along ethnic lines.”
The UN report came out on the same day as another damning investigation by advocacy group Amnesty International. Both reports document shocking abuses by both the government and the rebels since the war began in mid- December.
The conflict emerged out of a power struggle between President Kiir and his former vice president, Mr. Machar, that widened largely along ethnic lines. Kiir is an ethnic Dinka, and Machar is a Nuer. Thousands have been killed, and more than a million civilians have fled their homes.
Totaling 130 pages and based on more than 1,000 interviews with victims, witnesses, and others, the two reports present the most credible and comprehensive documentations of human rights violations since the conflict began. Read more…