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Continued harassment of activists’ families in South Sudan

Yasmin Sooka commission of human rights South Sudan Chair.
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Geneva, 21 October 2021 (GNP/ TDI): The harassment, intimidation, and threats against human rights activists, journalists; and civil societies, alarm the Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan. As shared by the United Nations Human Rights Council, on 20 October, via Twitter.

Due to the threats made by the National Security Services, some of those activists have fled the country. The Security Services continue to harass their families. Commission Chair, Yasmin Sooka, pronounced about it.

She stated that the erosion of the civic space in South Sudan; undermines the efforts to achieve peace. Sooka then mentioned that the role of the security services is causing key stakeholders to flee. This also discourages the participation of others.

She also remarks that this negates the efforts of the government in these critical areas. The note mentions two activists. Jame David Kolok, and Michael Wani, are among those outside the country. Kolok is a member of the Technical Committee to Conduct Consultative Process on Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing.

His position then was reaffirmed in May by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. On the other side; Wani acts as a youth representative on the National Constitution Amendment Committee.

On government orders, their bank accounts, and those of the INGOs they lead were blocked. Commissioner Andrew Clapham stated that the State’s targetting activists will discourage public participation. Other consequences also include that the confidence in the transitional justice process would decrease.

As stated by Clapham; further consequences also include the corrosion of the trust in constitution-making and national elections. Clapham then finishes by mentioning that confidence, and also participation, are fundamental. Without this, the transition envisaged by the 2018 Revitalised Peace Agreement; will not succeed.

2018 Revitalised Peace Agreement

According to the 2018 Agreement, it is necessary to draft a Permanent Constitution. It is also necessary to establish the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing. The note mentions that government leaders have renewed their pledges.

Clapham added that the government has been calling for public participation. But the National Security Services has targeted some prominent civil society leaders. Clapham stated that the Security Services, threaten peace; and must be controlled.

Commissioner, Barney Afako, urged the State’s authorities to respect and protect human rights, and their defenders. Afako stated that this would demonstrate the commitment of South Sudan to strengthen the system. It would also demonstrate that their commitment to consolidate human rights, is genuine.

The Commission also shared its concern that the detention of civil society leaders is arbitrary. The Human Rights Council established the Commission. It was in March 2016 and extended to March 2021. Its mandate is to determine, and also report facts. They do this by collecting and preserving the evidence.

The mandate of the Commission also includes the clarification of responsibility for alleged violations, abuses of human rights. It also covers related crimes, like sexual, and gender-based violence; and ethnic violence. This is to provide accountability and also to end impunity.

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