UN condemns harassment of civil society members

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Some members of the civil society in Juba are facing harassment from unidentified individuals, and the UN has condemned this as a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and political engagement.
welcomeOnly last week, the civil society issued a statement condemning the violence in South Sudan, and called for an end to the violence, urging parties to the conflict to come together and find a lasting solution to the conflict.
“From the standpoint of ordinary citizens we engaged with, what matters to them is that the guns go silent, they want to be safe in their homes with their families and the economy should improve,” Rajab Muhandis, the Executive Director of the South Sudan Network for Democracy and Election (SSuNDE), was quoted saying.
According to Muhandi, the civil society welcomed the UN Security Council visit, in the hope that it will bring lasting peace in the country. They also welcomed the decision by the government to accept the deployment of a protection force, saying that citizens are anxious to get back to their normal lives. In a meeting with the delegation, the government announced that it will allow the deployment of a regional protection force that was first proposed by the Security Council.
SSuNDE is the largest civil society network in South Sudan, representing over seventy five (75) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
In a statement, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it was 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 recently.
“Any attempt to suppress these rights (freedom of expression, movement and civil and political engagement) through threats and harassment must be condemned in no uncertain terms,” said the statement.
The delegation from the United Nations Security Council, comprising of US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and Fode Seck, Permanent representative of Senegal to the United Nations, met the civil society with the aim of gaining greater understanding of some of the issues and concerns faced by South Sudanese citizens at the grassroots level.
The Mission said it will raise its concerns with all relevant authorities in the country.
Meanwhile, the mission has announced that an independent special investigation team is in Juba to look into the violence which occurred in Juba between 8-25th July and the response of the UN Mission.
The investigation team was formed by the Secretary-General on 23rd August. Led by Major General (ret) Patrick Cammaert from Netherlands, it will review reports of incidents of attacks on civilians and cases of sexual violence that occurred within or in the vicinity of the UNMISS compound in Juba, and determine whether UNMISS responded appropriately to prevent and stop these incidents and to protect civilians, within its resources and capabilities at the time. It is also charged to review the Mission’s response to the attack on the Terrain Hotel of11th July.
The violence that broke out in Juba in July 2016 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his then Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar, led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians and more than 217 documented incidents of sexual and gender based violence, including rape and gang rapes of minors and women, at various locations in Juba.

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