Both the government and rebels in South Sudan carried out war crimes against civilians and should face justice, an African Union human rights investigation has found. The AU’s Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan lists a string of abuses, including forced cannibalism and dismemberment, according to the report published late Tuesday.
It also presents testimony that the ethnic violence, which began in the capital Juba in December 2013, may have been premeditated.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that acts of murder, rape and sexual violence, torture and other inhumane acts… Have been committed by both sides to the conflict,” the report said. However it added that there were “no reasonable grounds to believe that the crime of genocide has occurred”. “The Commission believes that war crimes were committed in Juba, Bor, Bentiu and Malakal,” the 342-page report read, referring to key towns in South Sudan.
The report called for an internationally backed, African-led court to try those responsible for the violence. It said a “highly confidential list” of “possible alleged perpetrators” will be submitted to the AU’s Peace and Security Council.
Among the most shocking of many acts of “extreme cruelty” identified in the report were claims of “draining human blood from people who had just been killed and forcing others from one ethnic community to drink the blood or eat burnt human flesh”.