The Council of Ministers of IGAD (Council of Ministers) have received reports from Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) that there have been violations of the 21 December 2017 Agreement on Cessation and Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access (ACOH) since its entry into force on 24 December 2017. CTSAMM has also submitted two very disturbing reports about the issues of Sexual and Gender Base Violence (SGBV) and Child Soldiers, which were the result of long-term investigations.
It is deplorable that the conduct of the Parties amounts to not only a failure to comply with the Articles of the ACOH, but also serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws. These violations have been perpetrated by the SPLA-IG and SPLA-IO (RM) and SPLA-IO (TD) against their own people, and include the killings of civilians, inflicting serious mental and physical injuries on people, rape, sexual violence and looting.
A CTSAMM report indicates that between February and December, 2017 a large number of Sexual and Gender Based Violations were committed by uniformed members of Government security forces in the Juba area including gang rape. These cases are verified, and represent only a proportion of the crimes committed, as many incidents go unreported due to fear of reprisals and shame. It is deplorable that military personnel can carry out such acts, and the Council of Ministers calls on the Government of South Sudan to take immediate action to bring the perpetrators to justice, and report on their progress in this respect within one month of the publication of this statement.
The continued employment of Child Soldiers by the Parties is of great concern to the Council of Ministers. CTSAMM has verified the existence of Child Soldiers in the Republic of South Sudan. The Council of Ministers calls on CTSAMM to continue to monitor this. The Council of Ministers understands from CTSAMM that recent reports from the field indicate the use of Child Soldiers by both the SPLA-IG and SPLA-IO (RM) in the Yei area, and by the SPLA-IO (TD) in several other areas of the country. The Council of Ministers urges these Parties to take immediate action to demobilize all Child Soldiers and return them to their homes. The Council of Ministers calls upon CTSAMM to investigate and report on these cases as a matter of urgency.
The Council of Ministers was deeply distressed by the attack on Koch by SPLA-IO (RM) forces on 24 December 2017 – the day the ACOH was to enter into force. It is a tragedy that 15 civilians (including 3 children) lost their lives in this senseless action which is a clear violation of the ACOH and International Law. The Council of Ministers condemns this attack, and urges the SPLA-IO (RM) to cooperate with CTSAMM to further investigate the incident in order that those responsible can be held accountable. The Council of Ministers urges the SPLA-IO (RM) to provide this information of the responsible individual(s)/group(s) to CTSAMM within one month from the publication of this statement.
The reports provided by CTSAMM indicate a high level of tension in areas of Central Equatoria. The Council of Ministers calls on the SPLA-IG and the SPLA-IO (RM) to reduce the tension by complying with all provisions of the ACOH in these areas.
In Western Equatoria CTSAMM found that SPLA-IG forces had carried out unauthorized movement in the area south of Mundri, stealing properties from civilians in the Bangolo area. Reports indicate that this movement led to a clash with SPLA-IO (RM) forces which has yet to be verified, but the very fact of the movement goes against the ACOH and these parties shall freeze all troops in place. Unauthorized movement and patrolling are prohibited acts. The Council of Ministers calls on the SPLA-IG to ensure that all its forces fully comply with the ACOH.
CTSAMM reports on alleged violations in the Leer and Rubkuay areas of Unity State indicate a high level of tension that could very easily break out into yet more violence. SPLA-IG has threatened to re-take Rubkuay unless it is vacated by the SPLA-IO (RM) and this is in itself a clear violation of the ACOH Article 3 sub article 2(i). The Council urges the SPLA-IG to keep their troops frozen in place and not to carry out any offensive military operations.
CTSAMM also reports that there is limited free movement in the area due to road blocks and checkpoints. This is a violation of Article 10(f) of the ACOH. The Council urges the SPLM-IO (RM) and SPLA-IG to allow free movement of civilians and unhindered humanitarian access. The two Parties must ease tension in the area and immediately disengage their troops in close contact as they are obliged to do under the ACOH. The Council of Ministers directs CTSAMM to monitor the situation and report back.
The IGAD Council of Ministers has noted that the SPLA-IG and SPLM- IO Parties have violated articles 2(1, 2, 4 and 5), article 3(1, 2(f and g)), article 3 (2 ( f, g and i), 4 and 5)), article 3(3, 4 and 5), article 5(1, 2 (a and b), article 6(a, b,c, e, and i), article 10 (a) and Article 13 of the ACOH. These continued violations by the Parties undermine the intent and purpose of the ACOH which is to bring peace and stability to South Sudan. The IGAD Council of Ministers is dismayed to learn that some Parties to the ACOH who seem to ignore not only the letter but also the spirit of the ACOH. The people of South Sudan have suffered enough and need peace and stability.
The IGAD Council of Ministers expresses its sincere condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones and suffered the worst types of abuse as a result of the senseless conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. The Council of Ministers commends those Parties and individuals who have shouldered their responsibilities under the ACOH and are working hard to see it implemented.
The IGAD Council of Ministers urges all parties in South Sudan to immediately and fully comply with the ACOH and fully observe their obligations. The Parties are called on to acknowledge the occurrence of violations, including but not limited to resumption of hostilities in various forms, killings, sexual violence, recruitment and deployment of child soldiers, and looting. The Parties are urged to provide full and unhindered access to the areas they control for CTSAMM and fully cooperate in the investigation process. The Parties must understand the CTSAMM reports highlight important issues that require them to take action in order to stop violations taking place, and to ensure that they do not reoccur.
The Council calls on CTSAMM to continue with its mandate to monitor and investigate the situation in the Republic of South Sudan. The Council of Ministers calls the International Community to support the efforts of CTSAMM in a manner that helps alleviate financial and other impediments in full-filing its mandate.
Finally, the IGAD Council of Ministers emphasizes that the reports submitted by CTSAMM since the signing of the ACOH do not indicate that the ACOH has not been violated elsewhere. In fact CTSAMM is currently following up reports and undertaking investigations in Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity State, Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Equatoria to verify and determine if ACOH is not complied with.
The Council of Ministers also reaffirms its full commitment to take appropriate action against those violating the ACOH. The Council of Ministers demands all Parties who have reportedly violated the ACOH to undertake their own investigation and submit to CTSAMM a full report including the names of those officers responsible. The Council of Ministers expects these reports to be submitted within one month from the publication of this statement, and makes it known to all that it will take any appropriate action in the case of non-compliance.
Done on the 25th day of the month of January 2018