Kerry endorses 'hybrid court' to try South Sudan crimes

2015-05-05 08:57
(Stefan Wermuth, AFP)

(Stefan Wermuth, AFP)

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Nairobi - US Secretary of State John Kerry said South Sudan was at "grave risk" as he announced US backing for a "hybrid court" to hold warring parties to account.

Speaking in Nairobi on Monday during a visit to Kenya, Kerry said he supported the creation of "a credible, impartial and effective justice mechanism, such as a hybrid court, in order to hold perpetrators of violence to account".

A hybrid court would combine international and domestic law.

South Sudan's civil war began in the capital Juba in December 2013 and has since spread across the country killing at least 50 000 people and forcing more than a million from their homes.

Kerry said the promise of independence in 2011 was "at grave risk of being squandered".

Civil war and justice

Stalled peace talks hosted in Addis Ababa have failed to end the fighting, which Kerry blamed on President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

"Unfortunately, South Sudan's leaders, both those in office and those contesting, have not yet chosen to make the compromises needed for peace," Kerry said.

Human rights activists say that decades of impunity for past crimes have contributed to the current round of civil war and justice must be sought if an end to the cycles of violence is to be found.

In December advocacy group Human Rights Watch proposed the setting up of a "hybrid court" involving both international and domestic judges, as in the case of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

A draft African Union report leaked in March also called for those responsible for crimes to be held to account.

On Monday Kerry endorsed the idea of a hybrid court and pledged $5m to kick-start the process.

Read more on:    riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  john kerry  |  south sudan  |  us  |  east africa

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