Activist echoes calls on AU to fast-track establishment of hybrid court

A civil society activist and a member of the South Sudan Bar Association has echoed calls on the African Union (AU) to speed up establishment of the Independent Judicial Body known as Hybrid Court for South Sudan.

The Hybrid court is one of the mechanisms in the peace agreement required to address abuses committed during the five-year conflict in South Sudan.

Human rights bodies have issued several statements calling on the AU to establish the court together with the Commission for Truth, Healing and Reconciliation; and the Compensation and Reparations Authority.

In January 2021, the South Sudan government approved implementation of Chapter V, which is on accountability mechanisms provided for in the peace agreement.

Much as this step empowers the minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs to take the establishment of these mechanisms forward, Wani Steven says the government is not willing to establish the court due to its role.

“When we look into the agreement, there are a lot of provisions like the power sharing, security mechanism (which) definitely the government will implement, but things like the hybrid court, these are critical things that the government will not have interest to implement and that’s why it falls under the AU to do it,” argues Steven.

“When we look into the role of the hybrid court, it’s going to hold to account those who committed the atrocities and crimes and who are these people?”

Article 5.1.5 of the R-ARCSS tasked the African Union, the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to help the transitional government to design, implement and facilitate the work of the agreed transitional justice mechanisms provided for in the R-ARCSS.

“As a citizen, there are a lot of people who committed atrocities against us South Sudanese and we need to holds them accountable and we want our partners to the agreement to help us in doing that and they can do that through the hybrid court,” Steven said

“So I urge AU to fast-tract establishment of hybrid court so that we can see justice prevail,”

In September 2022, the Transitional Justice working group said their work was faced by lack of cooperation from the government, citing that they were seen as Anti-government.

The UN Human Right Commission and Amnesty International also urged the African Union to quickly set up the court for South Sudan to end atrocities in the country.