May 10th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The co-founder of the Enough Project’s Sentry, John Prendergast, said, on Wednesday, that South Sudan, the world and the youngest African country, is the most extreme and blatant region in Africa.
This came during a testimony to the United States Congress on Sub-Sahara Africa in which he urged the Congress to impose network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures to address wars linked to grand corruption.
Prendergast said South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS) has sweeping powers of arrest and detention which it said were the recipe for the government’s role in limiting the space for civil society by arresting activists and arbitrary arresting them.
“In South Sudan, perhaps the most extreme and blatant example of violent kleptocracy, civic space continues to be severely constrained. The National Security Service (NSS ) has sweeping powers of arrest and detention and has used these powers to limit the space for civil society by arresting activists and detaining them for unspecified periods without trial, as well as banning them from foreign travel and confiscating their passports,” Prendergast told the Congress.
He pointed out that beside the arbitrary arrest and detention, the space for the freedom of association os severely curtailed pointing to a February shutdown of an anti-government rally of a group of youth who had participated in the peace talks in the neighboring Ethiopia.
“In addition to arbitrary arrest and detention, freedom of association is severely curtailed. In February, agents from the NSS shut down a rally in Juba that was organized by youth who had participated in the ongoing peace talks in Ethiopia,” he said pointing out that this actions “extends beyond the borders of South Sudan into the neighboring countries that continue to enable the conflict.”
“Two leading activists, Dong Samuel and Aggrey Idri, were kidnapped in Kenya in early 2017 and have not been seen since. Many believe they are either dead or being held in South Sudan. Their cases should be prioritized, their whereabouts should be revealed, and there must be accountability for those in the Kenyan and South Sudanese governments responsible for their disappearance and abuse,” he added.
“Media and humanitarian workers face similar pressures. Government and rebel attacks on humanitarian aid workers, including holding them for ransom, threaten the livelihoods of thousands of civilians in need of assistance. The U.N. also said it recorded 60 incidents between July 2016 and December 2017 in which South Sudanese journalists were killed, beaten, detained, denied entry or fired for doing their jobs,” he added pointing out that the government blocked news websites that are not based in the country.
South Sudan last year blocked the Nyamilepedia, the Sudan Tribune and the Radio Tamazuj without giving any reasons.
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.
A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1”.
The IGAD has employed an initiative called High-Level Revitalization Forum to bring back the peace agreement. Previous rounds of the HLRF has been unsuccessful and the IGAD said it expect the warring parties to negotiate on the last round on 17th of May. This week, the IGAD invited all the stakeholders to Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for consultations for consultations.