14 December 2012

Sudan: Investigate Wau Killings, U.S. Envoy Tells South Sudan Govt

Juba — South Sudanese authorities should thoroughly investigate the killings in Wau, the Western Bahr Ghazal state capital and properly deal with those accountable, Princeton Lyman, the US special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan said Friday.

At least eight people, state officials say, died in last week's clashes between the Police and protestors, who were marching to protest the state government's decision to transfer Wau county headquarters to Bagari, located 12 miles southwest of Wau.

However, albeit the state Governor, Rizik Zachariah Hassan insists no was killed, the United Nations reported 10 people dead, while an ex-Wau Commissioner put the death toll at 25. Even South Sudan army (SPLA) claims no one died in the incident.

"If there are incidences like this, they must be investigated and dealt with and they should not occur again," Lyman told journalists in Juba, the South Sudan capital.

"I think there have been several reported incidences in dealing with security problems in Jongeli now and Wau etc. In do not know if it has deteriorated so much as a lack of the right of kinds control and accountability, but it does not matter. They must be brought under control," he added.

South Sudan, Lyman stressed, remains at a "very critical" stage, and that important government put in place strong institutions that protect the fundamental rights of its people.

South Sudan's Information Minister, Barnaba Marial told journalists Friday that the Council of Ministers has formed an investigation committee to probe the Wau incident. Riek Machar, the country's Vice-President heads the committee, which comprises the Defence, Security and Interior ministers.

In addition, a nine-member committee, headed by the security advisor to the Western Bahr el Ghazal Governor has been instituted conduct an investigation into the incident and report within 72 hours.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday expressed concerns over the recent killings of innocent civilians in the new nation.

OHCHR, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, urged the Government of South Sudan to "take remedial action and send a strong signal of its readiness to protect the safety of journalists and human rights defenders, as part of a wider effort to bolster support for freedom of expression in this young and fragile democracy."

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