Ethiopia: Africa Union to issue guidelines for South Sudan war crimes court

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) is expected to formally issue the guidelines for the formation of a Special Court to try the war crimes committed in South Sudan, PANA reported from here Wednesday.

The AU announced the plan to set up the Special Court on Tuesday, an action it said would promote an 'African solution' to the crisis that has rocked South Sudan since 2013, leaving thousands dead and forcing over 2 million people from their homes.

The war crimes tribunal will be officially known as the Hybrid Court of South Sudan, and would be managed by the AU Commission.

Its mandate is to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing responsibility for the violation of international law.

The AU Commission Chairperson is expected to formally forward a request to the UN Secretary-General and the UN Security Council for the authorization of additional financial resources to aid the process.

Also, the Commission Chairperson has been asked to provide additional guidelines on the operations of the Court, including suggestions on the location, the infrastructure that would be required to keep it operational and how its operations would be funded.

The guidelines will also include the number of judges required, the privileges and immunity of the court personnel and any other issues that may arise, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) said in a communiqué.

The AU is also expected to decide on a number of key issues that would apply before and during the trial process.

The PSC, which met under the Chairmanship of the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to discuss the situation in South Sudan, agreed to formally approve a report prepared by a high-level panel - led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo - which investigated the crimes.

The report presented to the PSC by the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan ruled out the possibility of genocide in South Sudan but confirmed serious crimes were committed in the first few days of the outbreak of the political crisis in the world’s youngest state.

“The extreme violence that was the focus of the Commission of Inquiry was unleashed in two phases…the first three days from 16 to 18 Dec. in Juba and the second phase in the provinces, centred around the towns of Bor, Bentiu and Malakal,” the AU said in a statement.

Atrocities were carried out against civilians and targeted religious sanctuaries and hospitals, and substantial amount of the violence was also directed at humanitarian personnel and relief convoy, while cases of forced recruitment of child soldiers were documented.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 30Sept2015    

30 september 2015 15:19:54

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