The Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices typically covers the period from January 1 through December 31. However, the Republic of South Sudan (hereafter referred to as South Sudan) became an independent republic on July 9, when it completed its secession from the Republic of Sudan (hereafter referred to as Sudan). The creation of the new country followed a January referendum in which 98 percent of citizens of Southern origin voted in favor of independence. International and national observers characterized the mostly orderly and peaceful balloting as consistent with international standards and representative of the genuine preferences of voters. Under a power-sharing arrangement established by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), a simultaneous referendum on the status of the Abyei Area was also scheduled for January, but it was not held. At year’s end the Abyei Area was jointly administered by Sudan and South Sudan, with its final sovereignty status unresolved pending negotiations. The CPA also called for popular consultations in the Sudanese states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to determine whether constitutional, political, administrative, and economic preconditions for peace were satisfactory or needed to be renegotiated with the government of Sudan. However, this process had not concluded by the July 9 end of the CPA, was abandoned by Sudan, and resulted in armed conflict that triggered refugee flows into South Sudan. President Salva Kiir, who was elected in free and fair elections in April 2010, headed the government of South Sudan. On July 9, Independence Day, the president signed into law the transitional constitution, which provides for an executive branch headed by a president, a bicameral national legislature, and an independent judiciary.
Prior to July 9, the territory that now comprises South Sudan was the sovereign territory of Sudan. Security forces operating in South Sudan were composed of both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)--the armed forces of Sudan--and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)--the armed forces of South Sudan--which were combined in 2007 to form the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) under the joint control of the governments of Sudan and South Sudan. After independence on July 9, the SPLA became the national defense force of South Sudan and continued to be composed of various ethnic groups. Fighting between the JIUs and rebel militia groups (RMGs) resulted in numerous killings and abductions of civilians, especially of children and women. Fighting occurred along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, where disputes continued over claimed territories, in addition to RMG and interethnic conflicts in Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity, and Warrap states. The zones of conflict were primarily in Jonglei, Unity, Warrap, Upper Nile, and Western Equatoria states. There were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control.
The most serious human rights problems in the country included extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and other inhumane treatment of civilians as a result of conflict between the SPLA and SAF, RMG attacks on SAF and SPLA security forces, government counterattacks, clashes between security forces and civilians, interethnic and intercommunal conflict, and civilian clashes related to cattle rustling. Conflict also resulted in approximately 250,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the year.
Other human rights abuses included politically motivated abductions by ethnic groups; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, including prolonged pretrial detention; and an inefficient and corrupt judiciary. The government restricted freedoms of privacy, speech, press, assembly, and association. Displaced persons were abused and harassed. Official corruption was pervasive. The government restricted the movement of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and NGO workers were attacked and harassed. Violence and discrimination against women were widespread. Violence against children included child abuse, child abduction, and harmful traditional practices such as “girl compensation.” Police recruited child soldiers prior to independence in July, and RMGs recruited child soldiers throughout the year. Trafficking in persons; discrimination and violence against ethnic minorities and homosexuals; governmental incitement of tribal violence; and child labor, including forced labor, were problems.
The government seldom took steps to punish officials who committed abuses, and impunity was a major problem.
The jointly administered Abyei Area was the site of violence, widespread displacement, and human rights violations during the year.
Attacks by RMGs, including those led by Peter Gatdet Yak, David Yau Yau, George Athor, and Gatluak Gai, resulted in deaths, injuries, property destruction, and civilian displacement in Jonglei, Unity, Warrap, and Upper Nile states. (During the year Yak and Yau Yau joined the government, and Athor and Gai were killed.) The South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) perpetrated numerous human rights abuses, including killings and politically motivated kidnappings and disappearances. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and SSLA abducted women and children and recruited child soldiers. LRA attacks also resulted in deaths, injuries, and the displacement of approximately 7,400 persons in Western Equatoria. RMGs obstructed the delivery of humanitarian assistance.