South Sudan


South Sudan Human Rights

In the January 2011 referendum, the Sudanese people voted decisively to establish South Sudan as an independent state. The Republic of South Sudan (RoSS), which celebrated its independence on July 9th, faces enormous challenges heightened by its legacy of prolonged civil war and severe underdevelopment.

Soldiers, Police, and Security Forces

Fighting between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and armed opposition groups since January has killed hundreds of civilians, led to the displacement of more than 10,000 people, and the destruction of homes and other civilian properties. The Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) remains under-equipped, ill-trained, largely illiterate, and insufficiently deployed, leaving the SPLA to fill much of the policing void. In this role many soldiers commit further violations against civilians, including unlawful killings, beatings, and looting.

Freedom of Expression and Association

During Sudan's April 2010 elections, southern Sudanese security forces harassed, arrested, and detained people thought to be opposed to the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), including journalists and opposition members. Amnesty International continued to document these abuses in 2011.

Law Enforcement and the Justice System

The law enforcement and justice systems in Sudan are weak due to the shortage of qualified staff and the reliance on customary law, resulting in impunity for crimes and serious human rights violations in the administration of justice. These violations include arbitrary arrests and detentions, lack of legal assistance and aid, prolonged periods of pre-trial detention, and poor conditions of detention. Children are often tried as adults, detained with adults, and denied access to educational opportunities while imprisoned. Additionally, many mentally ill people are detained without lawful justification, and are denied sufficient medical services while in prison.

Death Penalty

Since January 2007, authorities in Southern Sudan have executed at least 12 people, and scores remain on death row, including juveniles. Weaknesses in South Sudan's criminal justice system can and do lead to breaches in international human rights law, including the right to a fair trial; the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment; and the right to life.

The Rights of Women and Girls

Although many of South Sudan's statutory laws contain protections for women and girls, the government is rarely able to enforce them. Women and girls are routinely deprived of the right to choose a spouse or to own and inherit property, and they are subjected to practices such as forced and early marriage, wife-inheritance, and the use of girls to pay debts, and various forms of domestic violence. Over 80 percent of women and girls are illiterate, and many have little knowledge of their rights under the law and limited access to justice.

Amnesty International urges the government of the Republic of South Sudan to demonstrate its commitment to human rights by taking action in the following areas as a matter of priority:

  • Ensure accountability for abuses by soldiers, police, and other security forces
  • Uphold the right to freedom of expression and association
  • Review the legality of all detentions, particularly juveniles
  • Immediately place a moratorium on executions, with the ultimate view to abolish the death penalty
  • Promote and protect the rights of women and girls
  • Ratify international human rights treaties in order to establish a robust human rights framework
South Sudan Newsroom

October 20, 2020 • Press Release

Regional human rights bodies struggle to uphold rights amid political headwinds in Africa

For a second consecutive year, Amnesty International has documented how African governments are grossly undermining regional human rights bodies by failing to comply with their decisions, ignoring their urgent appeals, …

April 20, 2020 • Press Release

Protect Detainees at Risk of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa, Unclog Prisons and Release Prisoners of Conscience

Authorities in Sub-Saharan Africa must take urgent action to protect people in detention from COVID-19, including releasing prisoners of conscience, reviewing cases of pre-trial detention, and guaranteeing access to healthcare and sanitation products in all facilities, Amnesty International said today.

November 17, 2019 • Press Release

Write For Rights: Amnesty International Launches Global Campaign Championing Youth Activists

Amnesty International has today launched Write for Rights, the world’s biggest human rights campaign, which this year champions children’s rights and youth activists.

May 22, 2019 • Press Release

Catastrophic failure as civilians ravaged by war violations 70 years after Geneva Conventions

The UN Security Council must mark the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions this year by ending its catastrophic failure to protect millions of civilians around the world whose lives and livelihoods are routinely ravaged by violations of the laws of war, Amnesty International said today.

September 4, 2018 • Report

Arbitrary arrests, torture of detainees despite repeated promises in South Sudan

South Sudanese authorities have arbitrarily arrested, detained tortured and ill-treated people to the point of death, despite repeated promises to release detainees, said a new Amnesty International briefing out today. …

February 2, 2018 • Press Release

South Sudan: US arms embargo should inspire tougher action from UN Security Council

Responding to news that the US government has imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan, now in its fifth year of an armed conflict that has led to widespread abuses and relentless suffering, Amnesty International USA’s Africa Advocacy Director Adotei Akwei said: “This long overdue announcement by the Trump administration must spur the UN Security Council to take greater action to prevent further killings of civilians and other gross human rights violations in South Sudan by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo to cut off the flow of weapons to the country.

July 23, 2017 • Report

Do not remain silent: Survivors of Sexual violence in South Sudan call for justice and reparations

Thousands of South Sudanese women and girls -- and some men -- who have been raped in ethnically-charged sexual attacks in the ongoing conflict are battling mental distress and stigma with nowhere to turn for help, Amnesty International revealed in a new report out today.

July 3, 2017 • Report

If Men Are Caught They Are Killed, If Women Are Caught They Are Raped: Atrocities Turn South Sudan’s Breadbasket Into A Killing Field

A new frontline in South Sudan’s conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee the country’s fertile Equatoria region over the past year, creating ongoing atrocities, starvation and fear, according to a new Amnesty International briefing published today.

July 27, 2016 • Report

We Are Still Running: War Crimes in Leer, South Sudan

Amid a fresh outbreak of fighting in South Sudan, a new report by Amnesty International reveals the true horror suffered by civilians at the hands of government forces after the August 2015 peace agreement was signed.

July 27, 2016 • Press Release

South Sudan: Government forces continue to commit war crimes despite peace agreement

Amid a fresh outbreak of fighting in South Sudan, a new report by Amnesty International reveals the true horror suffered by civilians at the hands of government forces after the August 2015 peace agreement was signed.

URGENT: Children seeking asylum in the U.S. are being denied their human rights based on their nationality — help ensure that all girls and boys fleeing violence can seek safety.