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UN decries “harassment” of South Sudanese activists

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September 8, 2016 (JUBA) – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said activists were being harassed following a meeting they held with the UN Security Council delegation in the capital, Juba.

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South Sudanese people take to the streets as part of a peace march organised by civil society groups in the capital, Juba, on 8 January 2014 (Photo AP/Ali Ngethi)

15 members of the Security Council members led by the United States permanent representatives to the UN, Samantha Power visited the South Sudan capital last week to persuade the Juba government into accepting the deployment of regional troops to facilitate implementation of last year’s peace deal.

The Security Council team also held talks with civil society activists.

“The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is deeply concerned by reports it has received of threats and harassment against some civil society members who met with the United Nations Security Council delegation during their most recent visit to Juba last weekend,” UNMISS said in a statement on Thursday.

“These reported actions are in violation of the rights to freedom of expression, movement and civil and political engagement, which are fundamental pillars of a democratic society. Any attempt to suppress these rights through threats and harassment must be condemned in no uncertain terms,” it added, without details.

According to UN mission, the meeting between the Security Council team and activists “was an opportunity for an open dialogue with a view to gaining greater understanding of some of the issues and concerns faced by South Sudanese citizens at the grassroots level.”

Such forms of intimidation, it further said in the statement, should cease and vowed to raise activists’ safety with South Sudanese government officials.

Members of the United Nations Security Council on Monday wrapped up a three-day visit to South Sudan and reiterated its support for the country’s peace process with calls for the Juba government to fulfill what was agreed upon in a joint communiqué.

ACTIVIST SPEAKS OUT

South Sudanese security agents are reportedly hunting for members of civil society entities and other activists believed to have attended a meeting with the Security Council delegation during their recent visit to Juba.

“I have been on the run since Monday. The security personnel have been calling me to report to their headquarters because I was one of those who attended meeting of the delegation of the security council of the United Nations. They are saying we have betrayed the country by failing to say what they have told us to tell the Security Council. They wanted us to tell members of the Security Council that we reject deployment of protection force”, an activist told Sudan Tribune Wednesday.

“my life and that of my colleagues is under threat. We are in danger of unknown gunmen. We don’t what to do now? They are threatening us and even our family members to trace us”, he added.

(ST)

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