Activists call for nationwide disarmament before healing, reconciliation program begins

A group of human rights activists in the Transitional Justice Working Group Technical Committee is calling for massive disarmament in South Sudan to pave way for truth, healing, and reconciliation process.

They say the presence of arms in the hands of civilians is hindering the healing and reconciliation efforts. The disarmament, they stated, will ensure the protection of victims, survivors, and witnesses of various conflicts during the process.

Experts believe arms in the hands of civilians have sustained communal and revenge attacks in the communities.

In April, President Salva Kiir launched a nationwide public consultation for the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing.

“One of the dilemmas that people have is that if the process starts now and still there is conflict, how can we guarantee that we are healing and reconciling when they are still fighting each other?” asked Jackline Nasiwa, Executive Director of the Center for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice.

“…it means for CTRH process to happen, we need mass national disarmament so that people will feel safe, and they can be able to tell the truth,” she added.

The Director of Protection Unit in Police Headquarters called for concerted efforts to address enablers of conflicts ahead of the planned general elections as per the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

“We are now approaching election; how do we do election when we have not reconciled and have not healed the wounds in the mind of the people?” Colonel James Dak Karlo asked, adding that “people have lost their loved ones and they are still in despair. So, if this process can really take place as soon as possible for the election that will be good.”

The revitalized peace agreement provides that the victims and witnesses of the conflict shall be protected during the investigation and during proceedings of the commission for truth.