The COVID-19 preventive measures were used by the national security services for denying UN agencies, INNGOs and NGO access, or at least timely access, to beneficiaries of their assistance.
The region that would eventually become South Sudan has been at war for 40 of the 60 years since Sudan’s independence from British colonial rule in 1956. The most recent bout of conflict erupted in December 2013, when a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar erupted into large-scale violence. The conflict has killed an untold number of people and displaced more than two million.
Space for civil society had been steadily shrinking prior to the conflict and has now reached an all time low. Journalists and human rights defenders are routinely harrassed and detained for reporting and conducting advocacy on issues that state actors deem to be contrary to their interests.
After a long delay, the warring parties – the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) – came together under the auspices of a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) in April 2016 as per the terms of a peace agreement signed in August 2015. However, the political and security context have remained uncertain depite the formation of the TGONU.
Amid this political uncertainty, the GRSS passed two pieces of legislation to govern non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in early 2016: the NGO Act and the Relief and Rehabilitation (RRC) Act. This legislation replaces the civil war-era legislation that had been in place but does little to improve the operating environment for civil society in South Sudan. The legislation includes a number of restrictive provisions regarding the NGO registration and a level of government oversight that could prove to be onerous in the South Sudanese context. That the GRSS would move ahead with this legislation in the midst of a humanitarian crisis is of particular concern.
Nevertheless, in September 2018, the government under President Salva Kiir, various armed and unarmed opposition groups, and other parties, including the SPLM/A-IO led by Riek Machar, signed a peace deal called Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) aimed at ending the country’s civil war. According to a porvision of the R-ARCSS, “Within twelve (12) months into the Transitional Period, the reconstituted NCAC [National Constitutional Amendment Committee] shall review the Non-Governmental Organizations Act, 2016, to ensure that such legislation complies with international best practice in regulating the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in South Sudan.” Therefore, it is possible that the two pieces of legislation to govern NGOs that were passed in 2016 will be revisited.
|Registration Body||Ministry of Justice, Relief and Rehabilitation Commission|
|Barriers to Entry||Multi-tiered registration, high cost, arbitrary denial, mandatory registration|
|Barriers to Activities||Renewal of registration, excessive governmental supervision|
|Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy||In practice, the government does not tolerate many types of advocacy.|
|Barriers to International Contact||Work Permits for foreign employees|
|Barriers to Resources||None|
|Barriers to Assembly||Excessive force used on protesters|
|Population||10,984,074 (July 2021 est.)|
|Type of Government||Republic|
|Life Expectancy at Birth||Male: 56.92 years|
Female:60.36 years (2021 est.)
|Literacy Rate||Male: 40.3%|
Female: 28.9% (2018)
|Religious Groups||Christians (majority), Animists, Muslims|
|Ethnic Groups||Dinka (Jieng) 35.8%, Nuer (Naath) 15.6%, Shilluk (Chollo), Azande, Bari, Kakwa, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona, Acholi, Baka, Fertit (2011 est.)|
|GDP per capita||$1,600 (2017 est.)|
Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency (2021)
|Ranking Body||Rank||Ranking Scale|
(best – worst possible)
|UN Human Development Index||187 (2018)||1 – 182|
|World Bank Rule of Law Index||1 (2017)||100 – 0|
|World Bank Voice & Accountability Index||3 (2017)||100 – 0|
|Transparency International||179 (2020)||1 – 180|
|Freedom House: Freedom in the World||Status: Not Free|
Political Rights: 2
Civil Liberties: 4 (2021)
|Free/Partly Free/Not Free|
1 – 40
1 – 60
|Fund for Peace: Fragile States Index||Rank: 3 (2020)||178 – 1|
International and Regional Human Rights Agreements
|Key International Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||No||—|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)||No||—|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)||No||—|
|Optional Protocol to ICESCR (Op-ICESCR)||No||—|
|International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)||No||—|
|Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)||Yes||2014|
|Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women||Yes||2015|
|Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Yes||2015|
|International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)||No||—|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)||Yes||2011|
|African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)||No||1996|
|African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child||Yes||2000|
|Convention Governing Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa||Yes||2013|
* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty
The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan was ratified on July 7, 2011 by the South Sudan Legislative Assembly and came into force on the day of independence of South Sudan – July 9, 2011. The Transitional Constitution replaced the existing Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan of 2005. Relevant constitutional provisions include:
Article 3. Supremacy of the Constitution. (1) This Constitution derives its authority from the will of the people and shall be the supreme law of the land. It shall have a binding force on all persons, institutions, organs and agencies of government throughout the Country.
Article 5. Sources of Legislation. The sources of legislation in South Sudan shall be: (a) this Constitution; (b) customs and traditions of the people; (c) the will of the people; and (d) any other relevant source.
Article 9. Nature of the Bill of Rights. (2) The rights and freedoms of individuals and groups enshrined in this Bill shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of Government and by all persons. (3) All rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties, covenants and instruments ratified or acceded to by the Republic of South Sudan shall be an integral part of this Bill.
Article 25. Freedom of Assembly and Association. (1) The right to peaceful assembly is recognized and guaranteed; every person shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form or join political parties, associations and trade or professional unions for the protection of his or her interests. (2) Formation and registration of political parties, associations and trade unions shall be regulated by law as is necessary in a democratic society.
A constitutional amendment passed by Parliament in March 2015 extended the terms of elected positions based on Article 100(2). Accordingly, President Salva Kiir’s mandate was extended by three years, to July 2018.
No changes have been made yet to the country’s constitutional framework, but at some point the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) will have to be incorporated into the Constitution. The body that was supposed to be doing this was suspended in February 2016 due to irreconcilable differences over matters such as increasing the country’s total of states from 10 to 28 states.
National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector
The national legal framework governing civil society and NGOs is defined more by gaps and uncertainty than by a clear, predictable framework. Nonetheless, relevant (and potentially relevant) national legislation affecting NGOs includes the following:
- The NGO Act, 2016;
- Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) Act, 2016
- The Companies Act, 2012;
- Taxation Act, 2009, amended in 2011;
- The Labor Act, 2011;
- Broadcasting Corporation Act, 2013, Media Authority Act, 2013 and Right of Access to Information Act, 2013; and
- National Security Service Law 2015 (now in force).
The NGO Act, 2016
The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Act, 2016 was adopted by parliament on February 1, 2016 and signed by the President on February 11, 2016. The NGO Act establishes the legal framework for NGOs while the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) Act, 2016 Act establishes the regulatory body that has the mandate to implement the NGO Act.
The Companies Act, 2012
Article 7 of the Companies Act, 2012, defines a “company limited by guarantee” as “a company having the liability of its members limited by the memorandum to the amount that the members undertake in the memorandum to contribute to the assets of the company if it is being wound up.” This company form is made available in many common-law legal systems as a non-profit company. It would seem that individuals seeking to form a non-profit legal entity in South Sudan could take advantage of this organizational form, and thereby avoid some of the regulatory strictures of the NGO Act. At the same time, however, registration under the Companies Act would not entitle a “company limited by guarantee” to the tax or other benefits available under the NGO Act or the benefits of registering under the RRC, such as the ability to book flights with UN agencies.
The Broadcasting Corporation Act, 2013, The Media Authority Act, 2013 and The Right of Access to Information Act, 2013
These three media bills were passed by Parliament and signed by the president, amid a great deal of controversy. Although the president’s spokesperson claimed that the laws had been passed, the relevant institutions refused to make the laws publicly available for many weeks. When the laws were released in September and October 2014, the signature date was 2013, which conveniently put it within the 30-day time period required for the president to sign legislation passed by Parliament. Several pieces of previous legislation, such as the Mining Act, 2013, followed a similar pattern, raising suspicions that legislation was being backdated to comply with constitutional requirements. As there is typically little or no access to legislation after it is passed by Parliament and before it is signed by the President, it is often not possible to determine when changes have been made to the law.
National Security Service (NSS) Law, 2015
South Sudan effectively enacted the National Security Service (NSS) Law after President Salva Kiir failed to approve or reject the Law for 30 days following its adoption by Parliament. The Law’s parliamentary approval in October 2014 prompted a walk-out by some MPs, protesting the controversial provisions of the Law that give powers of arrest without warrant, detention, and interrogation for an unspecified period. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a number of national NGOs, such as the Sudd Institute, put out position statements opposing the legislation.
Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives
In September 2018, the government of South Sudan under President Salva Kiir, various armed and unarmed opposition groups, and other parties, including the SPLM/A-IO led by Dr Riek Machar, signed a peace deal called Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) aimed at ending the country’s civil war. This may force the government to revisit the NGO Act, 2016. According to a provision in the R-ARCSS, “Within twelve (12) months into the Transitional Period, the reconstituted NCAC [National Constitutional Amendment Committee] shall review the Non-Governmental Organizations Act, 2016, to ensure that such legislation complies with international best practice in regulating the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in South Sudan.”
Please help keep us informed; if you are aware of other pending initiatives, write to ICNL at email@example.com.
In the NGO Act, 2016, “Civil Society means a Non-Governmental and a non-profit Organization that has presence in the public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, scientific, religious or philanthropic consideration. Section 7 of the NGO Act, 2016 is overly narrow and does not adequately encompass NGOs that focus on advocacy.
Public Benefit Status
The Taxation Act, in Section 69 on “Exemptions,” provides for tax-exempt status for NGOs, stating that: “(1) The following income shall be exempted from business profit tax: (a) income of organizations registered with the appropriate government entity as non-governmental organizations with public benefit status to the extent that the income is used exclusively for their public benefit purposes.” Section 88(b) of the Taxation Act on “Exemption from Tax” also says that, “There shall be an exemption from the advance payment of tax for… humanitarian aid when imported by a bona fide organization as prescribed by regulations.”
In order to be eligible for this status, the Taxation Act states that NGOs must register with the tax department within one month of registering with the Ministry of Justice, with late applications penalized up to 50,000 SSP ($12,500).
At the same time, however, there is apparently some confusion among NGOs on the issue of tax-exempt status. Some NGOs report that in order to receive tax-exemptions, NGOs must also apply to and secure a letter from the NGO Directorate of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. Others report that the standards by which the exemption can be denied are unclear.
Barriers to Entry
Section 9(c) of the NGO Act, 2016 prohibits any NGO from operating in South Sudan “unless it has been duly registered with the Commission.” Aggravating the problem, Article 15 criminalizes the carrying out of voluntary activity without a registration certificate; penalties include a fine of up to 50,000 South Sudanese pounds (approximately $10,000) or three years in prison or both. Most NGOs confirm that to pursue activities in Juba or at the state level, they have been required to secure registration certificates from the MoJ and RRC. This practice is consistent with Section 10 of NGO Act, 2016, which states that “[a] certificate of registration shall be a conclusive evidence of authority to operate in South Sudan.”
Under Section 9 of the NGO Act, 2016, every NGO shall submit an application for registration to “the registrar of Societies at the Secretariat for Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development.” In practice, however, the registration system in South Sudan has developed into a two-tiered system, whereby registration is required both at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and at the national-level Relief & Rehabilitation Center (RRC), both located in Juba. Registration at the MoJ is necessary for the applicant to receive legal entity status. Registration at the RRC is necessary for the applicant to receive an operational license.
In addition, NGOs carrying out activities at the state or district level are reportedly sometimes required to register with the state-level RRCs. Section 11(2) of the NGO Act, 2016, for example, explicitly states that CBOs must be registered in the state or county where they work.
Furthermore, NGOs report that they are sometimes required to register with the Ministry of Social Welfare at the state-level and/or county-level. Complicating the registration question further, requirements vary considerably from state to state. NGOs report that some states have a reputation for being particularly difficult environments in which to operate. These states may have their own registration processes and compel NGOs to pay fees to operate within the state, regardless of the NGO’s documentation from the national level MoJ or RRC. In sum, the national-level registration does not, in practice, necessarily entitle organizations to operate at the state level.
At the time of registration, NGO applicants are required to pay a registration fee – both at the MoJ and at the RRC. Some NGOs claim that the MoJ charges as much as 2000 SSP ($500) to process a registration application. Other NGOs reported that registration with the MoJ costs $200. The Chief Registrar at the MoJ claimed that the official fee was $275 for domestic applicants and $400 for foreign applicants. NGOs reported that registration with the RRC (approximately $100) was cheaper than with the MoJ, while the RRC Chairman stated that the fee was somewhere between $100-$300. Despite the variety of reports on the registration fee, NGOs broadly agreed that even a fee as low as $200 could be sufficient to deter some NGOs from seeking legal status, particularly NGOs in the states that have less financial means than NGOs based in Juba.
According to several NGOs and the Chief Registrar at the MoJ, NGOs are required, in practice, to hire a lawyer to help them complete their applications and draft their constitutions. NGOs that fill out the application and draft the constitution independently are turned away by the Chief Registrar and directed to a lawyer. Since the legal assistance must be paid for, this practical requirement only adds to the financial burden associated with registration. Indeed, it could compel some NGOs to abandon the registration process altogether.
Because of the centralized registration system whereby NGOs are required to apply to the MoJ in Juba, the costs linked to registration are even higher for NGOs based outside of Juba. These NGOs must travel to Juba and perhaps remain in Juba while the application is being processed. This necessarily leads to extra costs for transportation and accommodation in Juba, which may be economically prohibitive for many NGOs.
Section 12 allows the Registrar to deny registration if an NGO is involved with “tribal and political differences in the country”.
Barriers to Operational Activity
Controlling Regulatory Approach
Article 3 of the NGO Act, 2016 sets forth the purpose of the Bill to “provide for establishment of a regulatory framework for the registration, co-ordination and monitoring of operations of non-governmental organizations in the Republic of South Sudan, and for other related matters.” Of concern is the word “coordination,” which seems to assume an overly controlling regulatory approach by government toward NGOs. Furthermore, all NGOs are required to “agree upon” their area of operations with government in Section 9(b)(v). And Article 6, which outlines the principles of voluntary and humanitarian work, raises concerns due to vague language. Most problematic is sub-section (f), which mandates “[r]espect for the sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan, its institution and laws.” Such vague language invites the exercise of excessive government discretion in interpreting what does and does not constitute respect for South Sudanese sovereignty.
In addition, the RRC is granted the authority to direct the operations of NGOs. The Chairperson has the power to “supervise, monitor and evaluate the activities of NGOs” (RRC, Section 11(a)) and “organize and coordinate the work and programs of the organisations with geographical and sectorial limits” (RRC, Section 11(d)).
The government interferes with the operations of CSOs, particularly those that voice criticism. For instance, on July 15, 2020, the National Security Services closed an office of the NGO CEPO in Yei, after CEPO demanded that government soldiers be held accountable for raping and looting.
Renewal of Registration
Section 12 of the NGO Act, 2016, states that Registrar may “after due enquiry, renew or reject Operational License of any Non- Governmental Organisations,” although there does not appear to be any specific reference to when the renewal application has to be made. Section 21 also requires all NGOs to renew their registration under the new NGO Act, 2016 within three months of the Act coming into force on May 11, 2016. Given the ongoing crisis in the country, it is difficult for many organizations to meet this deadline. If they are unable to meet the deadline they may risk criminal penalties for violating the NGO Act, 2016.
In practice, both the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Relief & Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) require NGOs to renew their registration annually for a fee of about $100. In other words, NGOs must pay $100 annual fees in order to exercise the right to associate each year. The renewal at the MoJ involves submitting an annual return, or reporting form, after which the MoJ will stamp “renewed” on the NGO’s certificate. Moreover, the dual renewal requirement (i.e., renewal at both the MoJ and RRC) doubles the burden.
Section 20 of the NGO Act, 2016 also states that there will be “periodic” reporting, although the specific reporting requirements do not appear to be included in the legislation.
As a result of political and ethnic unrest it has become excessively difficult for NGOs to carry out humanitarian activities in many areas of the country. Many civil society activists have also fled to Juba from their home areas around the country because their lives are threatened or because there is not a safe environment for activism work in their home areas.
Barriers to Speech/Advocacy
While the NGO Act, 2016 does not seem to envision a role for advocacy NGOs, there are no specific legal barriers that expressly limit advocacy activities.
An activist, Dong Samuel, and an opposition official, Aggrey Idris, disappeared off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017. The men are suspected to have been abducted by or at the request of South Sudanese officials and taken illegally to South Sudan, where they would likely be subject to abuse as other detainees before them have experienced. This shows that even for exiles, there are fears about engaging in advocacy activities. The situation is similarly, if not more, precarious for activists within the country.
Barriers to International Contact
There are no significant barriers to international contact.
Section 17 of the NGO Act, 2016, however, provides that “all expatriates have work permits and any other documents required by law prior to arrival,” although penalties for non-compliance do not appear to be specified. Prior to the NGO Act, 2016, such regulations have not been enforced. Article 18(2)(c) also requires that 80% of employees must be South Sudanese at “all managerial, middle and junior levels”, which is unduly restrictive and fails to recognize the diversity of organizational missions, some of which could require a higher concentration of international staff.
In addition, in 2014, the Ministry of Labor released a Circular, which on its face called on all NGOs and companies to fire foreign workers within a one-month deadline, but after international outcry the government backtracked and stated that the Circular was “misunderstood.”
Barriers to Resources
There are no significant barriers to resources.
Barriers to Assembly
Public gatherings critical of the government or government policies have triggered heavy-handed government responses. For example, in December 2012, about 10 protestors in Wau were reportedly killed by the South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF). None of the SSAF officers who shot at the protestors were prosecuted, while the state government embarked on a series of arrests of people associated with the protests.
More recently, in 2015, in Western Bahr El Ghazal state, civil society activists were arrested for petitioning the state government to check and control the behavior of security personnel in New Bagari Market and surrounding areas. These activists were arrested and as of January 2016 remain in detention. Apart from their arrest and detention, the Western Bahr El Ghazal state also formed a committee to review the activities of CSOs whose representatives had signed the petition or have been arrested. This will worsen the already shrinking civil society space in addition the crackdown on the right to petition.
|UN Universal Periodic Review Reports||Sudan, February 24, 2011|
|Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs||None|
|USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes||None|
|U.S. State Department|
|Failed States Index Reports||Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index|
|IMF Country Reports|
|CSO Sustainability Index||South Sudan, 2012|
|Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International||“The Price of Silence”: Freedom of Expression under Attack in South Sudan|
|International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library|
Kanybil released, warned against criticizing the establishment (September 2020)
Activist Kanybil Noon has just been released without charges after spending almost 120 days in arbitrary detention. Also a member of the Strategic Defense and Security Review Board under the Revitalized Peace Agreement, Noon was detained by the national security on May 29, 2020. In June, Amnesty International said Noon was charged with defamation, a case initiated by the Director of the Internal Security, Akol Koor in late 2019. It says he was accused of writing a public letter on his Facebook – addressed to President Salva Kiir – in which he criticized Koor.
South Sudan bans social gatherings (March 2020)
South Sudan’s president banned all social gatherings, including sporting events, religious events, weddings and political activities, due to coronavirus fears. Salva Kiir also temporarily postponed international conferences slated to take place in South Sudan. “We have ordered restrictions on the movement of people, including declining to issue new visas, revoking visas and resident permits, and denial of admission at ports of entry,” he added.
Creatives are stepping up to counter a media clampdown in South Sudan (November 2018)
Fearing they will pay the ultimate price for trying to lead the nation in conversation, many South Sudanese journalists now work “under the cover of anonymity,” preferably for international media outlets, Madir Machar says. Yet, South Sudan badly needs a national conversation, at home, if it’s ever going to break out of the cycle of misrule and violence. The country’s artists are digging into their talents to tactically keep that conversation going, while evading censorship.
UK Envoy Calls for Transparency in South Sudan (September 2018)
Chris Trott, the U.K. special representative for Sudan and South Sudan, says the parties involved in the conflict in South Sudan have a chance to show their commitment to peace by implementing the revitalized agreement signed a week ago. In an interview Friday with VOA’s South Sudan in Focus, the British diplomat said his government hoped all parties would live up to their commitments. The U.S., Britain and Norway released a joint statement last week expressing concerns about the latest South Sudan peace deal.
South Sudan’s civil society back opposition’s rejection of Entebbe Proposal (July 2018)
South Sudan’s civil society groups have added their voice to the opposition forces rejecting the Entebbe proposal which increase cabinet’s ministers and members of parliament but ignore the core issues that led to the eruption of war in the country. According to the initial Entebbe proposal, which has been revised, there will be 550 members of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and 45 cabinet ministers with their deputies respectively. Speaking to Sudan Tribune on Monday, Biel Boutros a South Sudanese activist, said such proposal did not reflect the political interest to end the conflict but focus on personal interests in the governing system. “We said no; this is a very huge government and what the citizens want now is service delivery, but not accommodating personalities,” said Boutros.
Civil society complain of being excluded from the peace deliberations in Khartoum (June 2018)
Mr. Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of CEPO, says today we the delegates/representaives of civil society, women, business community and faith-based groups are totally isolated or rejected from attending or participating in the deliberations on the security arrangement issues.We are here not to stay in hotels drinking and eating not directly participating in the deliberation of our peace process.
South Sudan’s media regulator suspends U.N.-owned radio (March 2018)
South Sudan has suspended the operations of Radio Miraya, which is owned by the U.N. Mission in the country, for failing to comply with media laws. Elijah Alier Kuai, head of regulator South Sudan Media Authority, accused the station of “persistent noncompliance and refusal to be regulated under media laws of South Sudan.” He said the station had failed to respond to several queries over the years, including the violation of the terms of its broadcast licence. The station provides news on the activities of various U.N. agencies to the public in South Sudan and political programs aimed at fostering peace.
Media Holds Forum To Assess State Of Freedom Of Expression And Role In Peacebuiding (January 2018)
The South Sudan National Dialogue Secretariat and the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) held a forum on 18 January 2017 to assess the state of freedom of expression and media’s role in peace building during the National Dialogue process. The forum, which was organised with support from UNESCO, UNDP, the Government of Japan and The UN Peacebuilding Fund, brought together more than 100 delegates drawn from media practitioners, human rights organisations, CSOs, youth organisations, representatives of media associations, parliamentarians, government representatives, UN agencies, diplomatic missions and various actors and media development stakeholders.
Disappeared: South Sudan activist Dong Samuel Luak & opposition official Aggrey Idris (April 2017)
Three months, 90 days, more than two thousand hours without news of Dong Samuel Luak, a well-known South Sudanese activist, and Aggrey Idris, an opposition official, who disappeared off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24. The men are believed to have been abducted by or at the request of South Sudanese officials and taken illegally to South Sudan, where they are likely to have been abused as so many other detainees before them. Human Rights Watch has documented clear patterns of arbitrary detentions, abuse, and torture by military and national security actors in South Sudan.
Chairperson of AU Commission calls on South Sudan warring parties to desist (April 2017)
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, wishes to express his deep concern over the increasing military clashes in South Sudan, especially in the restive Upper Nile region. The Chairperson calls on the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition and other armed movements in South Sudan to immediately desist from fighting, which continues to negatively impact on the security, safety and life of civilians in the country.
African Union Urged To Act Decisively On South Sudan (April 2017)
The African Union is urged to act decisively to end South Sudan’s war is a message that a group of South Sudanese activists, experts and a religious leaders are advocating this week in Addis Ababa to African Union officials.
U.N. South Sudan mission worried that rights groups harassed (August 2016)
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan said it was concerned that members of civil rights groups in the country were being harassed for speaking to U.N. Security Council diplomats who visited South Sudan. The U.N. peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) said after the meetings it had received reports that some of the people who met the diplomats had received threats and being harassed. “Any attempt to suppress these rights through threats and harassment must be condemned in no uncertain terms,” it said in a statement.
Detained South Sudanese journalist, Alfred Taban released on bail (August 2016)
A prominent South Sudan journalist, Alfred Taban who was detained has now been released on bail. Taban was arrested following the publication of an editorial calling on the country’s president and vice president to resign.
Government Expels Deputy Chief of Staff of JMEC (April 2016)
In April 2016, the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) expelled the deputy chief of staff of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) accusing him of being arrogant. The explusion signals the latest effort to undermine and/or control the work of JMEC.
Peace Deal Requires Review of NGO bill (February 2016)
The European Union Delegation to South Sudan and ambassadors of several European nations have called for further review of the NGO bill by the both the public and the yet to be formed transitional government. “The Heads of Mission express their grave concern at the potential consequences of the passing of the Non-governmental Organisations bill, and the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission bill in Parliament on 2 February,” they announced Friday. “Restricting the work of NGOs could have a significant negative impact on the people of South Sudan.”
South Sudan security raid lawyers’ association meeting and arrest journalists (January 2015)
South Sudan’s National Security Service interrupted an election of the South Sudan Bar Association and arrested a reporter covering the event. Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, a witness who asked not to be named said that the Bar Association was carrying out an election for leadership positions when National Security Service personnel came to the venue and asked the lawyers whether they had permission to do the election. Reportedly, an SPLM candidate was expected to not win the election, thus prompting the security service’s interruption. Lawyers have boycotted court sessions in protest of the raids by National Security Service personnel against Bar Association elections in both Juba and Wau.
How the African Union is failing South Sudan (January 2015)
On the evening of 29 January, African heads of state gathered in Addis Ababa for a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC). Among the items on the agenda was a presentation by the chairperson of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS), former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. More than a year after the African Union (AU) announced its investigation into violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in South Sudan, the AUCISS was set to formally present its final report to the AUPSC. However, the matter was closed by leaders who urged the public release of the AUCISS to be put off indefinitely. The AUPSC’s decision not to publish the AUCISS report casts doubt on the prospects for justice and accountability in South Sudan. CSOs argued that by publicly identifying the individuals responsible for atrocities, the AUCISS report could help to deter further acts of violence against civilians.
New Report Highlights Renewed Government Clampdown on HR Defenders (December 2014)
Throughout 2014, human rights defenders in South Sudan have borne the brunt of a renewed government clampdown, finds a new report published by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP). The report, entitled “For Us, Silence is Not an Option: Human Rights Defenders and the South Sudan Civil War”, documents a worsening pattern of harassment, intimidation, threats, and legislative reforms, all targeting South Sudanese human rights defenders. The full report is available online at: http://www.defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/South-Sudan-2014-Report.pdf
Joint letter to President Kiir on accession to CAT, CEDAW and CRC (October 2014)
In this open letter, South Sudanese and international organizations urge the President of South Sudan to ensure that instruments of accession to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, are deposited with the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York.
Text of media ‘law’ still kept secret (September 2014)
South Sudan’s Media Authority Act is yet to be published or distributed to the press, in spite of assurances by Presidential Press Secretary Ateny Wek that a copy of the law would be shared with media representatives by 15 September. The bill is said to have become an act of law by signature of the president, but media were neither invited to attend a signing ceremony nor shown a copy of the signed bill.
South Sudan asks NGOs to fire foreign aid workers amid hunger crisis (September 2014)
South Sudan’s government issued an order to non-governmental relief organizations to fire employees of foreign origin, saying they must cease working by mid-October. Circular Number 007/2014 was issued under the hand and seal of Ngor Kolong Ngor, South Sudan’s Minister of Labour. The circular was copied to immigration and law enforcement agencies as well as six other cabinet ministers (Subsequently, in October 2014, the government said this order was misunderstood).
Civil society leader shot by unknown gunman (August 2014)
An unidentified gunman shot and injured the head of South Sudan’s civil society alliance, Deng Athuai, forcing several people to flee the crime scene for safety. Eyewitnesses say Athuai was shot in the thigh at South African park at around 8.30pm (local time) as he left the place for his hotel in the capital, Juba. This is the second attempt on Athuai’s life after he was first kidnapped at gunpoint in from the Juba-based Nile Beach hotel where he resided in 2011. Community Empowerment for Progress Organiaation (CEPO), a South Sudanese civil society entity said the government should immediately investigate the shooting of the renowned activists.
Future South Sudan Peace Talks Lie With Civil Society (January 2014)
Fighting in South Sudan: More Accident than Plot (December 2013)
NGO Bill threatens to hinder civil society’s work in South Sudan (December 2013)
South Sudan’s NGO Bill is ‘needlessly repressive’ (December 2013)
South Sudan Misses UN Human Rights Council Seat (November 2013)
Cabinet To Regulate State NGOs (July 2013)