Home | News    Monday 24 April 2017

Rights body concerned over S. Sudan activists’ disappearance

April 23, 2017 (NAIROBI) – The U.S-based Human Rights Watch said its concerned about the lack of news on the fate of two South Sudanese activists who disappeared from Nairobi three months ago.

Dong Samuel Luak, a well-known activist and Aggrey Idris, an opposition official, disappeared on January 23 and 24 from Kenya.

The men are believed to have been abducted by or at the request of South Sudan officials and taken illegally to South Sudan, where they are likely to have been abused as the ones earlier detained.

Human Rights Watch, in a statement issued Monday, said it has documented clear patterns of arbitrary detentions, abuse, and torture by military and national security actors in South Sudan.

However, since their arrest, neither the Kenyan nor South Sudanese authorities have responded to questions about the two men’s fate.
South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei earlier denied the two men were being detained by the security forces.

According to Human Rights Watch, credible sources disclosed that both Luak and Idris were detained in the Juba headquarters of South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS) on January 26, two days after they were forcibly disappeared from Nairobi and a day before the High Court of Kenya ruled against their deportation.

Other sources reportedly told the rights body that the two men were held in the NSS headquarters in Juba for a few nights and then transferred elsewhere. Their current whereabouts remain unknown.

“Luak and Idris’ forcible disappearance shows that South Sudanese actors are willing to cross borders to silence critics,” the New York-based human rights body said, adding, “This is an especially worrying development considering how many human rights activists and civil society leaders have had to flee South Sudan since the war started”.

Since the South Sudanese conflict broke out in December 2013, human rights watch said it has documented cases of enforced disappearances, defined as the detention and subsequent denial of detention by authorities, especially in the Equatoria and Western Bahr el-Ghazal regions where the South Sudan government has been pursuing abusive counterinsurgency campaigns, including against people presumed to support the opposition.

The rights body appealed to international actors, including the African Union and Kenya, to ensure that South Sudan government immediately investigates the case, produces and releases the disappeared men, probe and hold those responsible accountable.