By Deng Machol
Juba, South Sudan – South Sudan has launched public consultations for the establishment of the commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) as stipulated in the 2018 peace deal in an attempt to address legacy of conflict in the restive country.
The body will spearhead efforts to promote peace, reconciliation, and healing following years of civil wars since 2013.
According to the agreement, the public consultations are expected to take a period not less than one month prior to the establishment of the reconciliation commission.
Speaking during the launch of public consultations in Juba on Tuesday, President Salva Kiir said that the country needs to use reconciliation and forgiveness to eradicate the culture of impunity.
“The establishment for Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing doesn’t neglect the other pillars and in light of the challenges that we are currently facing, what we need more is reconciliation before the next step of pursuing justice,” said Kiir. “The process must be fair, transparency and inclusive.”
Kiir says his government wants to embark on the peace process.
“The commission must focus on serving the interest of the victims throughout their work , the final truth that will come out of this process must reflect what the victims went through, it’s only after this that our country can achieve genuine reconciliation”
First Vice President of South Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar Teny who leads the largest opposition group in the country said this is an important moment in the country in “”quest for justice and reconciliation.”
” The Commission is recognized as a critical part of peace building process as it will spearhead efforts to address legacy of conflict, promote peace, national reconciliation and healing,” said Machar.
The Ambassador of the Netherlands to South Sudan, Jelte Van Wieren, has urged the leaders to work on transitional justice as a step to reconcile and find lasting peace for the people of South Sudan in the future.
He said working on transitional justice is an essential step for the people emerging from violence to be able to establish shared common values, that would allow for reconciliation and subsequent healing.
“Failure to address or try to oppose these topics actually means ignoring our human essences, for then we will not allow ourselves to accept and deal with the heart from the past and therefore, we will not be able to move on,” said Wieren, on behalf of the Diplomatic Community.
“This public consultation process has been eagerly awaited by the public. Unfortunately, it has experienced delays due to funding and other constraints. It is encouraging to see this process finally take off despite these obstacles,” Charles Tai Gituai, Chairperson of RJMEC said in a statement issued in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
South Sudan’s national consultation mechanism will lead to the drafting of the mandate for the commission.
Chapter 5 of the revitalized peace agreement calls for the establishment of the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, a Hybrid Court and a Compensation and Reparation Commission.
The Hybrid Court and Compensation and Reparation Authority are yet to be established.