NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) " The United Nations commission of inquiry for South Sudan now has broader powers to pursue human rights abuses in the country's civil war.

The U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday gave the commission the ability to collect and preserve evidence and point the finger at suspected perpetrators.

Human Rights Watch calls it a significant step toward accountability for mass rape, torture and more.

The U.N. inquiry began a year ago to document human rights violations in South Sudan. Since then, a fragile peace agreement there has collapsed and ethnic fighting has spread.

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The inquiry this month reported that South Sudan was experiencing ethnic cleansing and said violations mostly have been committed by government security forces.

Its findings will be shared with the future African Union hybrid court for South Sudan.