Articles (Opinion/Analysis)

On South Sudan’s Third UPR Cycle at UN Human Rights Council (Part 2)

By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, 7th February 2022

In Part One of this article, I mentioned that AI reported that South Sudan’s national human rights commission was mandated to monitor the rights and freedoms in the Bill of Rights and investigate complaints of human rights violations, but the President had not appointed a Chairperson, so the commission was not fully established.

That is regarding South Sudan’s Human Rights Framework, in the Summary of Stakeholders’ submissions on South Sudan, Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right, the report prepared pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 16/21, taking into consideration the periodicity of the universal periodic review, and it says is a summary of 22 stakeholders’ submissions to the universal periodic review, presented in a summarized manner owing to word-limit constraints.

While issues of implementation continue to be a challenge, still it is necessary to cite relevant laws, also as a matter of creating awareness, hence this Part Two of this article looks at that, together with the the First Batch of the Advance Questions to South Sudan that are relevant to this article, questions asked by various Countries as part of this UPR Third Cycle.

The Human Rights Commission: What the Transitional Constitution and R-ARCSS say?

Article 145 of the Transitional Constitution provides as follows:

(1) There shall be established an independent commission to be known as the Human Rights Commission.

(2) The Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Members of the Commission shall be  appointed by the President with the approval of the National Legislative Assembly by a simple majority of all members present and voting.

(3) The Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, and members of the Commission shall be  persons of proven integrity, competence, non-partisan and impartial.

(4) The Commission shall have power to issue summons or other orders requiring  representatives of relevant institutions and other bodies at all levels of  government or persons or organizations to appear before it or produce any document or record relevant to any investigation by the Commission.

(5) The Commission may request a government representative or any person or organization to take part in its deliberations if and when necessary.

As far as the R-ARCSS is concerned, Article 1.19. provides that during the Transitional Period, the Human Rights Commission and other existing Commissions  and Institutions shall be restructured and reconstituted at the national level, as provided for in the R-ARCSS and that the Executive shall supervise and facilitate the reforms and reconstitutions of the Commissions and Institutions “paying particular attention to the mandate and appointments, to ensure their independence and accountability.” 

And while during the session last week, Monday 31st January, the Vice President of the Human Rights Council announced that the report of the review will be prepared by members of Troika: the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire, France, and the Republic of Korea, and in accordance with the procedure implemented since 2015, and that the full report, including the summary section will be circulated by email on Friday February 11th, for now, for the benefit of the reader, let me share the First Batch of the Advance Questions to South Sudan that are relevant to this article, questions asked by various Countries.


· Sweden is concerned that 58 percent of children in South Sudan are married before the age of 18. What measures are the government taking to end child marriages in South Sudan?


· What steps has South Sudan taken to ratify the Rome Statute in its 2010 version?

· What steps has South Sudan taken towards the full and legal abolition of the death penalty?

· What steps has South Sudan taken to join the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, as elaborated by the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group (ACT)?

· What steps has South Sudan taken to accede to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its additional protocols?


· Will the Government of South Sudan honour its promise to uphold freedom of speech, assembly and press specifically by creating and implementing targeted policies and initiatives to prevent harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance and killing of civilians, journalists and members of civil society?

· What specific steps will the Government of South Sudan take to ensure the protection of humanitarian workers and unhindered access to provide much needed support to those in need?

·  What progress has been made, and what further steps are planned, to eliminate conflict related sexual violence? In particular through the implementation of South Sudan’s “Action Plan for the Armed Forces on Addressing Conflict Related Sexual Violence in South Sudan (Jan 2021-Dec 2023)” since signing in January 2021.

· What meaningful efforts have been made, and what further steps are planned, by law enforcement or the Government of South Sudan to prosecute cases of corruption by public officials?

· How will the Government of South Sudan demonstrate delivery of their commitment to justice? Specifically, how will they improve the quality of services provided to survivors and victims of human rights violations and abuses, in particular ensuring: sufficient numbers of, and training for, judges; prompt investigations; witness protection; and proactive strategies to increase positive perceptions of the legal system?


· Will you investigate reported violence against civilians in Western Equatoria and hold accountable individuals found responsible for violations or serious human rights abuses?

· How does the government of South Sudan plan to cooperate and support the HRC mechanism?


· What is the further timetable for dealing with the security laws that are before Parliament (R-TNLA) for deliberation and enactment? Which bills on the duties and powers of the security organs are currently before Parliament for discussion? To what extent is attention paid to the design of these laws in accordance with human rights (e.g. legal basis for arrests and measures restricting freedom)?

· What measures (and by when) does the national government intend to take to end the widespread state of impunity?

· What measures (and by when) does the national government intend to take to curb the use of violence along ethnic and/or political lines of conflict at the local/regional level?


· What steps are the national  authorities taking in order to adopt the Draft Statute of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan,to ensure that the court is established and becomes rapidly operational, starting with its investigative branch, and to implement all other transitional justice provisions of the peace agreement.

· What measures is the Government planning to take to ensure that he National Commission of Human Rights is able to deliver its mandate according to the Paris Principles, including through enhancing its human and funding resources?

The Transitional Constitution and Functions of the Human Rights Commission

On Functions of the Human Rights Commission, in Article 146 of the Transitional Constitution provides that:

(1) The functions of the Commission shall be to:

(a) monitor the application and enforcement of the rights and freedoms enshrined in this Constitution;

(b) investigate, on its own initiative, or on a complaint made by any person or group of persons, against any violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

(c) visit police jails, prisons and related facilities with a view to assessing and  inspecting conditions of the inmates and make recommendations to the relevant authority;

(d) establish a continuing programme of research, education and information to enhance respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

(e) recommend to the National Legislative Assembly effective measures to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms;

(f) create and sustain within society awareness of the provisions of this Constitution as the fundamental law of the people of South Sudan;

(g) educate and encourage the public to defend their human rights and fundamental freedoms against all forms of abuse and violation;

(h) formulate, implement and oversee programmes intended to inculcate in the citizens awareness of their civic responsibilities and understanding of their rights and obligations as citizens;

(i) monitor compliance of all levels of government with international and regional human rights treaties and conventions ratified by the Republic of South Sudan;

(j) express opinion or present advice to government organs on any issue related to human rights and fundamental freedoms; and (k) perform such other function as may be prescribed by law.

(2) The Human Rights Commission shall publish periodical reports on its findings  and submit annual reports to the National Legislative Assembly on the state of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

(3) The law shall specify composition, procedures and terms and conditions of service of the members of the Commission.

What Next?

The video record for the Adoption of the report on the review of South Sudan – 40th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group held on Friday  is available on the UN Web TV on through thislink . Meanwhile, the one of Monday 31st session that I cited in Part One of this article appears to be no more there. For now, it is that the full report, including the summary section will be circulated on Friday February 11th.

Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, a South Sudanese journalist, is the author of the book Freedom of Expression and Media Laws in South Sudan.  Roger is also the Producer and Host of The Weekly Review: Making Sense of News and Relevant Topics.

For more, keep in touch with this his website

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