National Salvation Front has termed deliberate efforts by the administration of President Kiir toward obstructing the formation of a hybrid court for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by militia under his direct command, as “killing the hybrid court”.
Justice Kukur Lopita Marino, Chairperson of NAS National Committee for Legal Affairs and Human Rights, explained that the devil is in the details.
“Kiir’s intentions are clear. He does not stand to gain from any justice and closure to the relatives of the millions killed by his tribal militia. The world is naive to think that Kiir will participate in setting up a system that will convict him,” said Kukur.
Earlier this year a leaked document exposed that the government of Kiir was negotiating a lobbying contract with Gainful Solutions Incorporated to among others “delay and ultimately block the establishment of the hybrid court envisaged in the R-ARCISS”. The consultancy was also intended to “persuade the Trump administration to reverse current sanctions and further block potential sanctions”.
California-based Gainful Solutions Inc. was to be paid $3.7 million over two years.
International outcry for this action by Kiir failed to halt the negotiations. However, the tension surrounding the contract led Gainful Solutions to dispatch its Managing Partner, Amb. Michael Ranneberger to Juba, on a damage-control mission.
“There was a bit of a mix up with the first draft of the contract and it got published, but you can look at our contract on the website –which the President [Kiir] has approved, and it says nothing about the hybrid court,” Ranneberger said. He was speaking on a USAID funded radio station in Juba.
The policy by the government in Juba is a slap in the face of commitments made by President Kiir himself.
“South Sudan’s parties have committed to justice for the victims of war crimes and asked the African Union to take the lead on creating a hybrid court,” said Carine Kaneza Nantulya, Africa advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
“But there is no communication between key players and the process is stalled,” she added.
It remains inexplicable why Ranneberger would take a job where his task “is to make sure people responsible for war crimes are not held accountable”
“Given the desperate economic situation in the country, it is distasteful in what the fees are being charged –$3.7 million,” said Cameron Hudson, a former U.S. diplomat and National Security Council staffer who worked on South Sudan issues.
The language on trying to avert future sanctions “suggests to me the government is going to continue doing all the actions it is accused of by human rights groups,” said Hudson. “It suggests they are not looking to change their behaviour at all.”
Testament to failure in behaviour change, President Kiir and his government have continued to abuse the R-ARCISS at will. Kiir and his ministers have continued to issue threats on the formation of a government of national unity “with or without” its peace partners.
Kiir’s information minister and official government spokesperson, Michael Makuei has termed calls for the incorporation of R-ARCISS into the constitution as a “joke”.
Makuei was referring to a requirement by the R-ARCISS for timely incorporation of five previous amendments to the constitution; SPLA Act 2009, National Security Act 2014, Police Service Act 2009, Prisons Service Act 2011 and the Wildlife Service Act 2011 into laws of the land.
National Salvation Front (NAS) reiterates its full commitment to the realization of justice, including by calling for a complete reform of the entire judiciary of South Sudan. Article sixteen of the declaration of principles for South Sudan Opposition movements states; “Ensure the establishment of the African Union Hybrid Court to achieve accountability and justice for the victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in South Sudan.”