July 2, 20120 (JUBA) - As the United States (US) secretary of state, Hillary Clinton visits South Sudan this Friday; Human Right Watch (HRW) has demanded commitment from the country’s leaders on how cases of human rights abuses, it documented in various prisons, are be addressed.
- US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, speaking at the South Sudan international engagement conference, December 2011 (AP)
Clinton is expected in Juba, the South Sudanese capital as part of her 11 day tour of six African countries. She is expected hold talks with president Salva Kiir, with the issue of the ongoing post-secession talks in Addis Ababa, likely to dominate the discussion.
However, in a letter to the US Secretary of State, Daniel Bekele, HRW executive director for Africa division, highlights issues such the “unlawful” detention of prisoners, flawed arrests and prosecution as common practices allegedly being practised in South Sudan.
“The failure to pursue justice for serious crimes is also a long standing problem in South Sudan, a country with limited law enforcement capacity and a vast territory”, the 31 July letter partly reads, adding that the improvement of the justice and prison systems in the country is essential.
About 6,000 prisoners, according to a HRW research, reportedly live in extremely poor conditions, are arbitrarily detained, without solid legal justification, or sentenced for actions that should not be criminalised.
The research, conducted between March 2011 and January 2012 recommends that security forces be held accountable for alleged human rights abuses in the country, which celebrated its first independence anniversary less than a month ago.
The conflict, aid agencies say, has displaced over 200,000 people from Sudan into neighbouring South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, HRW, Sudan Tribune has leaned, is due to organise a one day workshop for various stakeholders to deliberate on the findings in their report on the state of South Sudanese prisons. The event, earmarked for 6 August, will take place in Juba.