The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Citizens from the Organized Crimes and Systematic Killings

By Peter Reat Gatkuoth Both

Human Rights violators must be alerted that the days of non-accountability (Revolutionary bush days), where one can slaughter group of people without questions are over. Human rights are not a matter of domestic concern. These human rights discourses are elevated to a matter of international level. The international community is well aware that those dictators who fail to protect their own people from murdering and crime against humanity must be put on trail for justice to prevail one day.

May 13, 2013 (SSNA) — In the wake of series man-made disasters, and the hopes to live in a peaceful society of non-political oppressive environment; South Sudanese citizens have been calling for viable solutions of insecurity and genuine policy of preventive measures that will allow individuals to live free from injustice. South Sudan is experiencing the culture of impunity and the nation has been internationally known to have been in an incredible state of chaos where tribal conflicts, corruption, nepotism, tribalism and racism is sculpted and embedded into the minds of the people through regionalism lenses since August 2005. These regional perceptions had resulted into regional cleavage among the very people that fought shoulder by shoulder during the revolutionary struggle (Jɛn tää ɛ jiäk ɛmɛ däkɛ nɛi ti ca kööri ti bɛ̈c bɛ̈ɛ̈c tɛ̈r kɛl).

The focus that the government supposed to do as to protect its population is fading away in the minds of civilians, and it is not longer expected in Juba since people whose their aim, are to eliminate the citizens of the country, are strategically advancing forward. Killing and disappearance of individuals in South Sudan is continuing until these days in the hands of “unknown armed officers.” Thus, it worth saying that sustainable peace that we were expecting in the country, and viable security system that should aims to protect the citizens within the country, will take time to effect in Juba where the “unknown killers” under the shadow of unknown murderous individuals are still advancing and pursuing their ambitious strategies with impunity.

The journey through the growth of human rights protection, the development of cardinal rules that could prevent the repeatedly occurrence of heinous murdering and slaughtering of individuals is yet to be realized here in Juba; due to the lack of preventive policy measures that may have obviate the needs for coercion, mass slaughtering and night murdering reference to Juba Jebel Market and Jebel Kunjur Areas. “Responsibility to protect the citizens” on streets, residences or in their dwelling centers always falls into the hands of laws enforcement agencies or National Military Intelligent Police Army Units. The issue of protection is a matter of concern in Juba, South Sudan, mi̱ laa pën Naath niën kɛ Wäär kɛ̈liw ni ciaŋ and not only the national citizens that are facing such an insecurity nightmare but also foreign citizens are driven behind the night garbage battle. They are repeatedly undergoing severe maltreatment under “the unknown people” and most of the cases of killing and brutal acts, gone uninvestigated for some reasons until these days.  

The responsibility to protect the citizens is a phrase that “was coined by the international commission on intervention and state Sovereignty.” It literally became an international norm, which set forth that the State has “the primary responsibility to protect their population” from criminals, genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. And when the State fails to protect her citizens, the R2P always falls into the hand of international community; for example, the acknowledged failure of the government in Somalia prior to 90s.

In this sense, the principle of state sovereignty is well recognized under the United Nation Charter, in article 2(1) and (7) and under customary International Law. The State as a subject of international Law is “recognized as a sovereignty with power of control over its territorial jurisdiction” without interference from United Nation or other states (“I am not under your command” reference to the recognition!). This power is well vested and recognized when the state become an independent or recognized internationally by UN General Assembly.

The background of Responsibility to protect (R2P) the citizens

The phrase “responsibility to protect the citizens known as R2P” refers to the fundamental duty of the State, imposed by its sovereignty rights to protect its people and its population from killing, murdering, disappearance and other grave harms within its national responsibility. If the State fail to protect its citizens reference to systemic and organized crime or international border dispute, “the coercive intervention for human protection” and prevention of international conflict escalation purpose, including the ultimate military interventions by others in the international community may be warranted in extreme cases.

Provision 138 of the United Nations 2005 World submit outcomes, states that “each individual State has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, murdering, mass slaughtering, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crime against humanity.” This provision entails the prevention of such a crime including their incitement through appropriate and necessarily means. Further more, provision 139 of UN Charter add that “international community, through United Nation body also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Chapters VI and VII of the charter to help protect population from crime against humanity, murdering, disappearance, genocide and ethnic cleansing.”

This United Nation doctrine is always based on the principle that the Sovereignty implies responsibility. The State always has the primary responsibility for the protection of its people, animals and the associates. Where the population is suffering a serious harm, as a result of insurgency, bandits, repression, the principle of non-intervention must yield to the international responsibility to protect the people. This measure is taken base on inherent obligation of the state “according to the principle of sovereignty under article 24 of the UN Charter in regards to maintenance of international peace.”

The Principle and Elements of Responsibility to protect the Citizens

Responsibility to protect the population entails the element of prevention before the worse occurs, responding to the situation and rebuilding or restoring peace. The responsibility to prevent human suffering is always “the first priorities which confers the duty on the national government to address both the root cause and immediate cause of disturbance or internal conflict/death and other man-made crisis that put the population at risks.”

On the other hand, the responsibility to react responds to the situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures, which may include coercive measure like sanction, international prosecution and in extreme case, military intervention. In this regard, responsibility to protect the citizens justifies the principle of Jus ad bellum – the right to wage war and when to wage it in the name of fulfilling the responsibility to protect individuals in a sovereign State. The doctrine does not prohibit force, but rather recognize just war or action to rescue the suffering of the people, and in exercising to their responsibility, the State or regional community must first pursue a peaceful measure before resorting to military intervention.

The current insecurity issue at night in Juba, South Sudan

Contemporary insecurity sometime confuses people as well as appalling them. Juba bandits, criminals and murderous individuals had been killing people in Jebel Market, Jebel Kujur and associated areas while nothing much has been done in the House of Common as to deploy police forces/platoon or recruit a trusted night curfew forces, mixed with different ethnic origin officers to protect the residence of Juba at night. One may wonder why the death of the people who die in the periphery does matter much then the death of the people who die in the Capital city in present of foreigners, international ambassadors and top officials of the country. Since I came here, I never see any drinkers or alcoholic persons sleeping or staying awake on the streets of Juba.

It would be a logical argument if one chooses to argue that all heavy drinkers always stay awake on streets in any countries only when there is a positive peace in the environment, and the availability of trusted law enforcements agent around. Although it may seem like a joke to individuals, the present or sign of alcoholic people on streets meant the availability of protection in peaceful environment.  The drinkers in Juba usually push their ways home before the sun set- fearing for the death or attacks from unknown groups who take the law into their hands. They fear that one may shut them down to death or slaughtering them while unconscious. The bar or restaurants in Juba are always deserted before 9:30PM, fearing for invisible consequences.

The Republic of South Sudan government should take a serious specific preventive measure to prevent and protect civilians from unknown guns men in their dwelling centers in Juba. The great pain or killing done unto civilians/families may quickly surface to the international standard as the worse news ever if not contained well. This may unknowingly reflect something different to international community and the foreigners that live with us in the capital City. Juba is a capital city, inhabited by different people of colors and nationalities. It must be cleaned and reclaims back quickly from criminals and bandits whose aim is to spoil the name of the government in present of international foreigners. The recent killings in Jebel Market sends a very strong message that something needs to be done quickly, either to do a second round of disarmament in Juba city or deploy a heavy trusted forces, lead by trusted and mixed officers within the insecure areas.

Notwithstanding though that the Juba Residents always have a very great expectation that the Friday Council of Ministers’ meeting or legislative assembly’s meeting in the parliament should address the ongoing killing of the innocent citizens here in Juba; however, Friday after Friday comes and go without any major announcement to what will be done in order to safe the lives of innocent population. The innocent population of Juba, and foreigners at large are wondering about what are the ministers actually discussing in the Friday Council of Minister’s meeting or highest decision-making panel without addressing the insecurity agenda that supposed to be the first item in the high-level political discussion menu?

The responsibility to protect (R2P) the citizens can, therefore, be the first items to be endorsed by the highest legislative branch or in the Council of Ministers’ meeting (Highest decision-making level). Unfortunately, our government is leaning much on the rumors of ethnic political turmoil, racism and tribalism that would never effect on positive development. The endorsement and decisions that we were expecting since the start of insecurity in Juba; must reflect national consensus at least in abstract, that the resident should get the supreme protection from criminals and bandits who had an hidden agenda while in the system.

Although the government emphasize the need to protect the civilian though in low taken theoretically, the criminals are known to challenge the government system indirectly through the lens of crime, and this issue should have been the first item in the political high panel discussion rather than focusing on ethnic politics that is thriving under the cover of impossibilities. To the extent that the voices of the victims are not heard publicly; we must unite and stand together at least to pressure the policy makers to remedy the human disaster and assassination of our fellow citizens within the town. Let hope that our government deal urgently with the current insecurity issue that engulfed the lives of innocent citizens in Juba before we dwell much on 2015 unimaginable election.

The author of this article is a member of Jonglei Community and in the same time a member of international human rights groups. He holds a Master degree in International Law and Human Rights in United Nation University of Peace. Mr. Pitɔr Gatkuɔth is planning to release an observatory note and the reflection of his experience in South Sudan comes late summer. Please do not hesitate to visit his commentaries website at or contact him through [email protected].

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