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US government urges Juba to release Peter Biar, other detainees

Activist Peter Biar Ajak (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

July 28th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – The government of the United States of America (USA) has urged South Sudan’s government to release detained human rights activist Peter Biar Ajak along with other political detainees in line with a peace agreement the government signed with opposition groups in September last year.

Peter Biar was arrested exactly one year ago at Juba international airport while leaving the capital for Northern Bahr El-Ghazal state capital Aweil for a youth function organized there at the time. He was later keep without charges at the National Security Service (NSS) headquarters in Juba until early this year when he was accused of terror and treason.

In May, he was sentenced to two years in prison not for the initial charges but for reportedly giving interviews to international media while at the prison early this year when a group of detainees including him took control of the NSS headquarters in Juba.

In a statement issued on Sunday to mark one year since Ajak’s detention, the US embassy in Juba urged the government of President Salva Kiir to release him as well as all the detainees in respect for the pledges the government made when signing a revitalized version of the 2015 peace agreement last year.

“We call on the Government of South Sudan to comply with its legal obligations by informing all detainees of all charges against them in a timely fashion or releasing the detainees if there are no charges and to implement the provisions of the peace agreement by releasing political prisoners,” the statement partly read.

“Under South Sudanese law, the government has an obligation to charge defendants in a timely fashion and start judicial proceedings expeditiously; yet when detainees in the National Security Service’s “Blue House” detention facility seized control of the jail in protest, most of them, including Peter Biar, had never been brought before a judge,” the statement added.

The statement further cited South Sudan’s constitution in guaranteeing the freedom of the citizens from unlawful detentions by the government.

It said: “Although the Transitional Constitution is clear that ‘no person shall be subjected to arrest, detention, deprivation or restriction of his or her liberty except for specified reasons and in accordance with procedures prescribed by law,’ others have also been subject to arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention without charge in South Sudan.’

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