SSHURSA Press Release,
Feb 28, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —- The South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy(SSHURSA), strongly calls on the leadership of the main peace partners; the Government of the Republic of South Sudan(GRSS) and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/ Army-In Opposition(SPLM/A-IO) to immediately release prisoners of war. There are hundreds of prisoners of war still being held by the parties. The process of releasing them has been very slow and this is in a total disregard to the provision of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan(Agreement) that calls for their immediate release.
Sub-article 1.10 of article 1, Chapter II of the Agreement obliges the parties to ensure immediate and unconditional release of prisoners of war and all those detained in connection with the conflict. These categories should have been released by the parties through the International Committee of Red Cross. However, no release since the parties signed the Agreement in August 2015. Failure to release the prisoners of war also violates international humanitarian law, specifically the Geneva Conventions to which South Sudan is party. The Geneva Conventions protect victims of armed conflict and non-combatants.
Most of the detainees are being held in security cells under cruel, degrading and inhuman conditions in South Sudan’s capital Juba. Some are being held underground without being given adequate food, medical attention and access to immediate relatives, according to the narratives of the family members of the detainees. There is a security detention camp underground in Juba located along River Nile. Many persons including former victims have confirmed to SSHURSA that it is a place where both prisoners of war and political detainees are tortured and subject to more degrading treatment by the government security agents.
As SSHURSA calls on parties generally to release the prisoners of war, it specifically calls on South Sudanese government to release not only prisoners of war but also all political detainees including former Western Equatoria’s Governor Joseph Bakosoro who has been in detention without trial since 2015. Keeping persons in detention without trial is humiliation to their dignity and abuse of their rights to fair trial under article 19(4) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 which obliges the arresting authority to bring the accused person before the court of law within 24 hours. The government and its agents have been violating this provision.
SSHURSA further calls on international community especially Troika and Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD) to put pressure on parties to release prisoners of war immediately as laid down by the Agreement. The government must be specifically urged to also release those persons detained under politically motivated fabrications, including Governor Joseph Bakosoro and other several detainees.