U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay met Wednesday with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and members of his administration in the capital Juba as part of her tour of the world's newest country.
In a briefing following the conclusion of her tour, she said she agreed with administration statements that human rights are applicable regardless of the duration of state institutions.
"There are no excuses, not even the youthfulness of the state, for ignoring or violating" human rights, she said Friday.
Pillay said the treatment of women, imprisonment of the mentally handicapped and attacks on civilian targets were troubling developments in the country. She added some of the civilian attacks were the work of Sudanese forces from the north, however.
South Sudan and Sudan are teetering on the brink of war 10 months after both countries split according to the terms of a comprehensive peace agreement reached in 2005.
Despite a mixed report, Pillay said she was cautiously optimistic about the development of a sustainable human rights infrastructure in the country.
"Rule of law, based on a good human rights system, is fundamental to a properly functioning democracy, and I have been encouraged by the acceptance of that fact by the country's leadership," she said in her briefing.