Home | News    Tuesday 21 February 2017

Relatives decry "unlawful" detention of S. Sudan Chief Justice’s aide

February 21, 2017 (JUBA) – A relative of Thomas Gama, an aide to South Sudan’s Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut, has strongly condemned his unlawful detention, calling for his immediate release.

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

Gama, an eyewitness said, was abducted at gunpoint from Juba airport by South Sudanese National Security Service operatives, last month.

“The unlawful continuous detention of Mr. Gama Thomas at the National Security Service detention facility violates his constitutional rights as enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan,” said the relative, who preferred not to be identified.

He said the former aide to the Chief Justice has not only been denied access to family members, but cannot access legal counsel.

“He [Gama] has also not been allowed to seek medical treatment since his arrest,” the relative further told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

Several attempts, he further stated, have in recent weeks been made at the highest level of the National Security Service leadership, including through the Minister for National Security Services in the president’s office to visit Gama, but it failed.

“They [authorities] keep telling us to come tomorrow or the next day. At other times, they just tell us Gama is being detained at the Internal Security Bureau (ISB), when we go there, we are told he is being held at the General Intelligence Bureau (GIB), so we really don’t know his physical condition or his state of mind since he is being held in solitary confinement”, explained the distraught family member.

The former aide to the country’s Chief Justice is accused of his alleged involvement in leaking to the media confidential court documents, which contained opinions of one of the judges reviewing an appeal case lodged by the 16 persons convicted to life imprisonment for alleged corruption in the president’s office.

“We challenge the National Security Service to charge Gama Thomas before a competent court of law if they have evidence to support unsubstantiated accusations against him,” said the relative.

This convert security operation seem to has become a trend between Kenya security services and their South Sudanese counterpart. In October 2015, Susan Anyieth Chaat who is among the 16 persons serving life imprisonment was also abducted by South Sudan National Security Service agents in Nairobi with the help of Kenyan security agents and deported to the South Sudanese capital, Juba without the due process of the law and detained at the GIB headquarters and later taken to court on trumped-up charges and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

Meanwhile, a United Nations expert group on enforced disappearances has called on the governments of Kenya and South Sudan to reveal the fate of two South Sudanese dissidents who were abducted in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi last month.

The two are Dong Samuel Luak, a human rights activist, who had been given refugee status in Kenya, and Aggrey Idri Ezibon, chair of the armed opposition’s (SPLM-IO) Humanitarian Affairs Committee.

Both individuals are members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), a rebel faction.

Abduction of the duo, rights bodies say, was done with the involvement of security personnel from Kenya and South Sudan.

“The ongoing hearings and recent arrest warrant issued for a suspect linked to these disappearances are positive steps in the right direction,” the U.N human rights experts said in a statement.

“However, efforts must be stepped up so as to ensure credible investigations, including into the alleged role of Kenya security agents, and promptly establish the whereabouts of the two men,” it added, further emphasizing that enforced disappearance is a heinous crime and an offence to human dignity.

The group of experts called on the authorities in Kenya and South Sudan to guarantee the safety and protection of the two and afford protection to witnesses who can help establish their whereabouts.

The group further stressed that any return of the activists or deportation to South Sudan would be in violation of Article 8 of the 1992 UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The measure, it added, prohibits the return of a person to any state where there are substantial grounds to believe that he would be in danger of enforced disappearance.