Home | News    Tuesday 15 December 2020

Rights body accuses S. Sudanese security of torture, killings


December 14, 2020 (NAIROBI) – A human right body has accused South Sudanese authorities of failure to investigate the appalling abuses committed by the country’s National Security Service (NSS).

Southern Sudanese police in a convoy on the streets of Juba (UN photo)

The accusations are contained in a 78-page Human Rights Watch report, entitled “‘What Crime Was I Paying for? ‘Abuses by South Sudan’s National Security Service” released on Monday.

The report details numerous abuses by the national security services between 2014 and 2020, and at the atmosphere of fear it creates.

Since the outbreak of the civil war in December 2013, the security service has reportedly carried out arbitrary and abusive detentions, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and illegal surveillance, with little to no accountability or justice for victims.

In the report, Human Rights Watch research identified the obstacles to justice for these abuses, including denying due process for detainees, the lack of any meaningful judicial or legislative oversight of the agency, legal immunity for NSS agents, and ultimately a lack of political will to address widespread practices.

“All that is needed is a political will to rein in South Sudan’s notorious security service and ensure redress for years of abuses,” said Carine Kaneza Nantulya, Africa advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, adding “Instead, the agency remains the government’s preferred tool of repression, promoting a culture of impunity and leaving victims and their families with little recourse for justice.”

According to the rights body, at least 85 people, including former NSS detainees, family members of detainees, activists, policy analysts, civil servants, former military, security, and intelligence personnel, family members of victims of NSS abuses, representatives of domestic and international nongovernmental organizations, diplomats, and United Nations officials were interviewed.

Security agents are also accused of regularly targeting journalists, activists, opposition and critics who are detained and tortured.

Its role also expanded from intelligence gathering to include law enforcement functions and combat operations, the report noted.

Meanwhile, human rights watch urged South Sudanese authorities to conduct credible and thorough investigations into NSS violations, including the role of the national security minister and the agency’s top leadership in perpetuating abuses by the service.

It further urged regional and international partners to press the government to end abuses, reform the NSS and ensure justice for all.

South Sudanese authorities have not yet officially reacted to the report.


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