Survivors express views about future Truth Commision at Consultations in South Sudan
Updated: Jun 28
On June 9th, Rights for Peace joined its partner Centre for Inclusive Governance Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) in a running a civil society led consultation on the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) in accordance with Chapter V of the 2018 Peace Agreement (R-ARCSS), which relates to transitional justice measures.
Chapter V of the Peace Agreement indicates that consultations shall take place 'in collaboration with civil society' : our programme focuses on ensuring that survivors of conflict related sexual violence (CRSV) have a voice in the process.
The CRSV survivors based in the PoC where consultations took place, had no prior knowledge of the proposed Truth Commission, with over 30 women participating. Following a training about the future Commission, including its proposed scope of work and the appointment of Commissioners, survivors provided their views and concerns about the process. The session was facilitated by Rights for Peace's Pictorial Guide developed with the Ministry of Justice's Technical Committee on the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (TC-CTRH).
The women suggested testifying through a chosen representative from the camp who might bring their stories to the Commission on their behalf as well as providing greater information on progress of the commission's proceedings. Regarding the composition of the Commission, they voiced their concerns, indicating that the Commissioners should not be appointed by the government. They conveyed frustration at the limited possibilities to testify and seek justice for rape cases through the Courts in instances when perpetrators are unknown and were pleased to hear that testimony at a Truth Commission does not require knowledge of the perpetrator's identity. There was a call for participation and representation of survivors in these processes to then enable dissemination of relevant information at the camp level. Many of the survivors also expressed feelings of isolation due to the lack of information on the situation outside the camp. They also spoke of the dire living conditions within the camp, including the high incidence of sexual assaults and killings, and the urgent need for trauma counselling and access to justice. Many of the survivors also talked about insecurity in the camps and the current neglect of their needs. They emphasised the need for better information about events going on in the country, mentioning that radio programming in their language had ceased some months back.
"Women in the camp are suffering. If you want to stand with us, then stand with us. We need to have you come again so that we will be less afraid."
There was a positive response to the consultation. Many of the women involved were glad to be able to share their experiences and to hear of the establishment of peace processes. They hope that these will lead to better living conditions and the chance to leave the PoC camps, as well as greater access to information and justice for survivors.
To read more about the TC-CTRH consultations: