Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Sudan Civil War: Rights Reports Slam Both Sides as Leaders Go to Talks

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Sudan Civil War: Rights Reports Slam Both Sides as Leaders Go to Talks

Article excerpt

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.

They describe in detail the slaughtering of hundreds of civilians in police stations, hospitals, places of worship, and UN compounds, and the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war.

In the Amnesty report, titled "Nowhere Safe: Civilians Under Attack in South Sudan," a Nuer woman in Unity State recounted an attack on a group of women by pro-government forces.

"I was three months pregnant, but because I was raped by so many men, the baby came out," she said, adding that the soldiers forced wooden sticks into women who refused sex, killing them. …

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