By Jessica A Badebye
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have been dismayed by the African Union (AU)’s decision to defer publication of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) report in spite of the fact that the commission’s findings would make a critical contribution to the peace process of the war-torn country.
In a letter addressed to the AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Commissioner for Peace and Stability Ambassador Samil Chergui and the Chairperson of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a coalition of 76 CSOs from within and outside Africa demanded that the AU considers the immediate publication of the report in question.The CSOs reminded the AU that AUCISS committed itself in the June 2014 interim report to produce a detailed final report containing findings and recommendations on healing, reconciliation, accountability and institutional reforms that would contribute to finding lasting solutions to the crisis in South Sudan.
They said it was regrettable that the 29 January 2015 decision made by the Peace and Security Council (PSC) to defer consideration of the report was based on a belief that its publication would obstruct the achievement of peace in South Sudan. “We believe that the AUCISS report could make an important contribution to South Sudan’s peace process and to the attainment of a peace that is both lasting and sustainable through advancing the nation’s pursuit of transitional justice, national reconciliation, deter future serious crimes by parties to the conflict, benefit victims and survivors who provided witness testimony, and build confidence in the AU’s commitment to combat impunity on the continent,” they explained.
They went on to explain how the report due would contribute to the development of transitional justice, reconciliation and the healing process, since the conflicting parties have themselves agreed that transitional justice and national reconciliation processes are necessary elements for achieving peace, in respect of the 1st February 2015 agreement signed by South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in Arusha Tanzania as part of negotiations being brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). “It provided for the establishment of a Truth, Reconciliation and Healing Commission as well as for a hybrid judicial body. There, the SPLM committed itself to “the establishment of a comprehensive system of transitional justice (the core elements of which are truth and reconciliation, criminal prosecution, reparations and institutional reforms), to look into the issues of atrocities, human rights violations and abuses in the country,” part of the letter read.