UNDP Supports Transitional Justice Dialogue in Bentiu

Jun 20, 2016

Leader of a women’s group demands accountability for human rights violations.

From 7 - 9 June 2016, the Dialogue and Research Initiative (DRI) organised the first of a series of dialogue sessions on transitional justice, peace and reconciliation to be held in and around Bentiu over the course of six months. The three-day dialogue was the first of its kind to be organised by a civil society organisation since the outbreak of the violence in December 2013. Bentiu was one of the areas most affected by the conflict. The dialogue was attended by more than 72 participants (34 female, 38 male) ranging from women leaders, traditional authorities, representatives from the State Legislative Assembly, youth groups and the church. The three-day dialogue was supported by UNDP’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law project in collaboration with the UNMISS Human Rights and UNMISS Civil Affairs Division.

Over the course of the three days, the participants discussed the meaning of transitional justice, the Chapter V institutions: the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS), the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH), and the Compensation and Reparation Authority (CRA). The role of traditional justice mechanisms in the peace process were also discussed. The participants spoke out strongly in favour of accountability and the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, which they considered as central to bringing an end to impunity and preventing future outbreaks of large-scale violence. The participants also spoke about the need to forgive and discussed the challenge of how to reconcile with people that have been displaced to other parts of the country. A youth leader noted that “the youth are ready to reconcile amongst themselves, but they will need alternatives to fighting such as schools and employment.” The participants called out strongly for the need for compensation and reparation for the wrongs done in the past.

Attesting to the delays in implementation of the peace agreement, participants were keen to know more about the role of the international community in ensuring that the agreement is implemented. UNDP and the UNMISS Human Rights Division explained their support to the implementation of the peace agreement. UNDP also gave a presentation about the transitional justice programs in Sierra Leone and Rwanda, with a particular focus on the Gacaca courts.

Closing the dialogue on the last day, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, acting as Governor, Dr. Chuotyier Koryom, expressed his commitment “to promote peace and reconciliation.” He urged the participants to “disseminate what has been learned over the past three days to fellow citizens in the other counties.” He pointed out that Bentiu and surroundings were amongst the places most heavily affected by the December 2013 crisis and that “not only physical infrastructure was destroyed, but also the lives and minds of the people.” He therefore, urged all participants to “sit down and talk, find solutions, forgive and reconcile.”

The dialogue series organised by DRI is part of an larger awareness-raising and dialogue programme on transitional justice supported by UNDP South Sudan’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law project in collaboration with the UNMISS Human Rights Division. The Dialogue and Research Initiative (DRI) is part of a network of CSOs known as the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG). The TJWG aims to coordinate civil society organisations working on transitional justice in South Sudan so as to play a crucial role in representing citizens’ voices, act as a platform to support the peace agreement and provide interface between transitional justice stakeholders and the official transitional justice processes in South Sudan.

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