Opinion Press Release

Save the People’s Lives Against False Definition of the ‘State of Emergency’

By Wicmuon Joseph Geng Chan 
Wicmuon Joseph Geng Chan (Photo contesy of the author)
Wicmuon Joseph Geng Chan (Photo contesy of the author)

Apr. 1st 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – I have learned that people have different views on the definition of the ‘state of emergency’ as it is the case for the one declared in the war-torn South Sudan. Some says that the state of emergency means looting people’s residential areas and villages, abducting children from biological parents, murdering people, torturing or mistreating people, forceful displacement of the people from their homes, raping women and girls, lastly, the genital mutilation.

However, in the sense of a legal definition agreed by all, the state of emergency, from my own point of view, means any governmental declaration made in response of any extra-ordinary situation posing an imminent threat to the country. The declaration may suspend certain normal functions of the government declaring it, may alert citizens to alter their normal behaviors, or may authorize government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans as well as to limit or suspend civil liberties and some parts of the Bill of rights.

Therefore, in light of this definition, the state of emergency has nothing to do with killing of the people. It instead protect their right to life. To vividly explain this state of emergency, Article 187 (1) of  The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011, provided that “the President, may, upon the occurrence of an imminent danger, whether it is war, invasion, blockade, natural disaster or epidemics, as may threaten the country, or any part thereof or the safety or economy of the same, declare a state of emergency in the country,  or in any part thereof, in accordance with this constitution and the law.”

This declaration of the state of emergency only restricts some parts of Bill of rights as by the virtue of the constitution or statutory laws for example, the restriction of press freedom and the prohibition of public meetings in the areas where state of emergency has been declared upon; domestic deployment of the Armed Forces; evacuation of people from their homes and places of work; searches of homes and other private places without warrant ; arrests without charges; confiscation of targeted person’s private  property with or without compensation and or its destruction; regulation of the operations of private enterprises; interference with financial transactions and export regulations and with special legislation to punish non-compliance with emergency regulations.

However, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR) and The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011 identify certain rights that are non-derogable in execution of the state of emergency as under Article 188 provided that during the state of emergency,  the President may, by law or orders, take any measures that shall not derogate from the provisions of this constitution except as provided here in (a) to suspend part of the bill of Rights. However, there shall be no infringement on the right to life, prohibition against slavery, prohibition against torture, the right of non discrimination on the basis of race,  sex, religious creed, the right to litigation on the right to fair trial.

In addition to that, UN Human Rights Committee has recognized that in addition to the non-derogable rights mentioned above, the several other Humanitarian provisions that must remain unassailable as listed below.

The human treatment of all persons deprived of their liberty

Provisions against hostage taking and unacknowledged incarceration

Protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities

The prohibition of propaganda advocating war or national, racial,  or religious hatred

Procedural guarantees and safeguards designed to ensure the integrity of the judicial system.

The question is: Where in The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011 where the killing of the people, looting of the citizen’s villages and residential areas, etc,during the state of emergency?

Finally, those who defined the state of emergency falsely at the expense of the citizens shall be accounted by the law without an excuse. “He who doesn’t speak the truth freely, is a traitor to the truth.”

The author is a South Sudanese lawyer and can be reached via josephwicmon.lawyer@gmail.com

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