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Sudan Tribune

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Activists decry shrinking civil space in South Sudan

November 28, 2021 (JUBA) – South Sudan government should amend the National Security Service Act, which grants the National Security Service unchecked powers to arrest or detain suspects, human rights defenders said.

The call emerged during a high-level panel discussion organized by the South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN) to strengthen dialogue between government stakeholders and civil society on the promotion of human rights.

The event was part of the 69th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights being virtually held from November 15 – December 5.

James Bidal, the head of the SSHRDN secretariat, urged the government to open the civic space as guaranteed in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan and refrain from frustrating advocacy efforts to reclaim the shrinking civic space.

He said human rights defenders operate in an increasingly hostile environment.

“We call on the government of the Republic of South Sudan to respect the rights of its citizens to peacefully assemble, associate, and express opinions and views, strengthen the legal framework that allows citizens and civil society organizations to form and operate without any hindrances,” stressed Bidal.

Lorna Merekaje, a member of the South Sudan Democratic Engagement, Monitoring and Observation Program said citizens’ rights to information have been curtailed.

“Those who created laws for the country have denied citizens the right to access these laws”, she said Friday.

Gideon Beny Mabor, a Commissioner at South Sudan Human Rights Commission said the state has the mandate to fulfil, protect as well as promote human rights.

He urged human rights defenders in the country to closely work with government institutions to ensure that the fundamental human rights of citizens are protected.

A decade since South Sudan attained independence, restrictions to human rights and fundamental freedoms have led to shrinking civic space as the environment in which citizens organize and participate in governance has remained hostile.

This is despite provisions contained in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, regional and international treaties that guarantee the respective human rights.

 

(ST)