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Western countries call to release prominent South Sudanese activist

Peter Biar Ajak poses with Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, on 7 April 2018 (ST Photo)
August 6, 2018 (JUBA) - European Union and Troika diplomats in Juba called on the South Sudanese government to free Peter Biar Ajak, a prominent critic who has been arrested without charges at Juba airport since nine days.

“We are deeply troubled by the arrest and ongoing detention by the South Sudanese National Security Service (NSS) of youth activist Peter Biar Ajak on the morning of Saturday 28 July 2018,” says a joint statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Monday.

The statement, which was inked by the head of diplomatic missions in Juba of Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, further expressed concern about the harassment and intimidation of civic actors; restrictions on freedom of expression and association; and arbitrary detention in South Sudan.

The western diplomats pointed that all these human rights abuses are in clear violation of the South Sudanese constitution and called the government to release him or to bring him to justice.

"We, therefore, call on the government to either release Peter Biar Ajak or to bring charges against him in a timely manner in accordance with the rule of law and to grant him access to a lawyer," said the joint statement

Ajak family’s said he is held at the headquarters of the National Security Service in Jub, adding the agency denied his lawyer to meet him.

BRITISH LAWMAKERS

The UK Parliamentary Group for Sudan and South Sudan on Friday released a strongly worded statement calling on the British Foreign Secretary to do all he can to secure the release of Peter Biar Ajak.

"Peter is a friend of our parliamentary group and a tireless campaigner for peace and reconciliation in South Sudan," said Sir Henry Bellingham, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Sudan and South Sudan.

The British parliamentarians also urged South Sudanese government should ensure freedoms and create a conducive environment for "civil society leaders like Peter, not arbitrarily arresting them without charge".

(ST)