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South Sudan: Top UN human rights official says civilian violations still happen


JUBA, South Sudan — Rights violations continue to happen in violence-prone South Sudan although the fighting is no longer intense, the United Nations assistant secretary-general for human rights said Thursday.

Ivan Simonovic told reporters Thursday during a trip to South Sudan that he met recent victims of violations such as rape.

"I have met victims of recent violations, victims of rape, victims who are survivors of killings, so violations are ongoing," he said. "Peace would be essential to prevent certain violations although some violations of human rights are not conflict-related."

South Sudan's warring factions have broken multiple agreements pledging a peaceful end to armed conflict in the world's newest country.

In the most recent agreement, signed this week in neighboring Ethiopia, President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar agreed to conclude a comprehensive peace deal to end the crisis in South Sudan before March 5.

Simonovic said he was encouraged by his meetings with both Kiir and Machar. "Both told him they will push for peace and justice," a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told reporters later Thursday. At least three previous peace agreements quickly ended in failure.

Watchdog groups have accused both sides of committing rights abuses since violence broke out in December 2013.

Associated Press writer Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed.

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