Monday, May 28, 2012

US State Department Report Accuses South Sudan of Human Rights Abuses, Corruption

Monday 28 May 2012

US report accuses S. Sudan of human rights abuse, corruption

May 28, 2012 (JUBA) — A series of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and other inhumane treatment of civilians occurred in South Sudan in 2011 as a result of conflict between the South Sudan army (SPLA) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), clashes with renegade militia groups or cattle-related disputes among communities, the US department of state’s country report on human rights revealed.

Approximately 250,000 people, according to the report, were displaced in the country as a result of conflict in that year alone.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Right and Labor report, covering January to December 2011, also cites politically motivated abductions by ethnic groups; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, including prolonged pre-trial detention; and an inefficient and corrupt judiciary as other forms of abuse allegedly committed by the government.

Despite all these, “The government seldom took steps to punish officials who committed abuses, and impunity was a major problem,” the report says.

During the same period, the US department of states report accuses the southern government of allegedly restricting freedoms of privacy, speech, press, assembly, and association, adding that even displaced persons were “abused and harassed”.

“The government restricted the movement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and NGO workers were attacked and harassed. Violence and discrimination against women were widespread. Violence against children included child abuse, child abduction, and harmful traditional practices such as girl compensation,” it noted, further accusing the Police and renegade militia groups of recruiting child soldiers into their ranks.

Also cited in the reports, were alleged cases of trafficking in persons; discrimination and violence against ethnic minorities and homosexuals; governmental incitement of tribal violence; and child labor, including forced labor in various parts of the country.

South Sudan became independent in July last year following an overwhelming vote for separation in the country self-determination referendum conducted in January 2011. The vote was a key part of the 2005 peace deal which ended over two decades of war between North and South Sudan.


According to the US departmental document, on several occasions, the government or its agents allegedly committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, specifically pointing fingers at the southern army, armed militias fighting the government and the various ethnic groups.

“In August, in Juba, men wearing police and military uniforms reportedly killed and robbed civilians, including a priest in Jebel Kunjur. Some members of these groups were reportedly arrested, although no investigations were conducted. In response to this incident, police intensified night patrols and imposed restrictions on movements after midnight in areas in Juba witnessing increased crimes,” partly reads the report.

Also, numerous people, including women and children were allegedly abducted or disappeared mainly from conflict zones such as Jonglei, Unity, Warrap, Upper Nile, and Western Equatoria state in South between January to December last year.

“On July 25, President Salva Kiir ordered the arrest of General Mariel, who was charged with involvement in the April disappearance of an engineer named John Luis Silvio. Silvio disappeared after being ordered to appear before General Mariel Nuor Jok, the former director of the Public Security and Criminal Investigation Department. Silvio had been summoned in connection with a disputed plot of land,” it noted.

In another instance, the report says on July 7, prior to the July 9 independence of South Sudan, the Muslim Brotherhood accused the state government in Wau, the Western Bahr el Ghazal state capital of “involvement” in the disappearance of Al-Shayk Foud Richard, the secretary general of the South Sudan Islamic Council in the state, which the government reportedly denied.

To-date, however, the report says justice has not genuinely prevailed on the perpetrators arrested for crimes committed against the innocent people. The report also faults the country’s transitional constitution, which came into effect on July 09, for its alleged failure to protect those arbitrary arrest and detention without charge, yet prohibited by law.


Meanwhile, the government security forces have been in the spotlight for confiscating or damaged journalists’ cameras and equipment, demanded photography permits from journalists, and restricted their movements, particularly prior to independence.

“On November 2, security forces arrested without charge Ngor Aguot Garang, editor of the English-language daily Destiny, following an October 26 article in the newspaper that criticized President Kiir. The newspaper was suspended, and on November 5, Dengdit Ayok, the deputy editor of Destiny and author of the article, was also arrested and suspended from working as a journalist. On November 18, both journalists were released. Garang claimed that he was beaten and tortured while in detention,” it says.


While the country’s transitional constitution provides criminal penalties for acts of corruption, the US departmental dossier on human rights, accused the southern government of allegedly failure effectively implement the law, and officials continued to “engage in corrupt practices with impunity.”

“Although President Kiir publicly criticized corruption, it was a problem in all branches of government and was compounded by poor record keeping, lax accounting procedures, and the pending status of corrective legislation within the country,” the report says.

According to the report, the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission does not have enough mandate to prosecute those implicated in corruption-related practices, instead saying the Justice ministry wields more powers than the former.

Monday 28 May 2012

South Sudan army capture suspected raider in Jonglei

May 27, 2012 (BOR) – South Sudan’s army (SPLA) disarmament operation in Jonglei state has captured a suspected armed raider in Twic East County on Sunday, according to the county commissioner, Dau Akoi Jurkcuh.

Raider, Thamatho Ketchou, captured in Duk County after attack on SPLA garrison of commando, 1 Janurary 2012 (John Alier Gai/ST)The suspected Murle raider was caught carrying a rifle by SPLA soldiers after laying an ambush in one of the areas criminals are known to operate in Twic East.

Thalano Nyicho from Wucho payam [district], Pibor county, was brought before Jonglei state Peace Monitoring Committee, which was recently in the Twic East capital, Panyagoor. He confessed before his paramount chief, Nganthou Kawelojok, that he is just one of many youths who left Pibor for Twic East (among other counties) in April with the aim of raiding cattle and abducting children.

According to Akoi, the raider was cross-examined by his Paramount Chief in order to confirm his identity.

Commissioner Jurkcuh claimed that the SPLA are pursuing other members of the Murle ethnic group who evaded the ambush.

The committee instructed the SPLA to deal with those criminals still holding arms in the bush, according to the commissioner.

Jonglei Comprehensive Peace Initiative, spearheaded by South Sudan president, Salva Kiir, was organised and facilitated by a 23-member committee headed by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bull, appointed by Kiir, was signed on 5 May, two months after the general disarmament operation started in the state.

He said the wounded suspect, Thamatho Ketchou, is now in police custody and will be moved to the state capital, Bor, for further investigations within the week.

According to Ketchou, five raiders left Ngacibaraceth village to raid cattle belonging to the Lou-Nuer ethnic group but were intercepted at Akeer.

Ketchou, who was shot on his right thigh, described his arrest to journalists in Bor as follows: “five of us left Murle for Lou to raid cattle. When we arrived there, we were detected by people and they began shooting us. I was in front and so they shot me before I could shoot them. The rest of my colleagues ran, that is how I was caught.”

He said that he was originally from the Dinka-Bor ethnic group but had been abducted as a child by the Murle and could no longer remember his parents.

“If I go back to the Murle, I will tell my colleagues to stop raiding because it brings about death,” he explained.

SPLA soldiers also caught the a suspected raider in Duk County on 14 January.

In January the UN estimated 120,000 “may need relief assistance” due to the conflict in Jonglei since. There has been a long-running cattle-raiding/child-abduction feud between the Luo-Nuer and Murle ethnic groups which has escalated with the advent of readily available small arms. The proliferation of which is due, in part, to two decades of Sudanese civil war, which ended in 2005.

There has been scant information from the Murle Diaspora and the Murle in South Sudan on their perspective of the conflict, unlike the vocal Luo-Nuer who claim that the Murle have been driven to abducting their children as they are suffering from an infertility endemic; a view shared by Kiir.

According to the UN Environmental Program the Murle were in Ethiopia until the 19th century. Some remained their until the 1990s while others were driven west by local Nilotes. They established an homeland in Pibor county, Jonglei state in the 1930s, since which, environmental pressures have impinged upon their pastoralist lifestyle.

Sunday 27 May 2012

South Sudan’s solution to economic independence

By Mariar Wuoi*

May 27, 2012 — South Sudan’s economy is suffering some shocks due to the sudden decision to shutdown oil production in response to north’s decision to impose unilateral decision to hijack South’s oil as a form of payment for the use of pipelines running across Sudan. The economic ramifications of the shutdown are definitely going to be felt by people in the South. However difficult this decision is, it has been met with widespread support across the South. The reason for widespread is people in the South believe that north’s decision to dictate the terms of economic relationships with the South amounted to a continuation of colonization. Southerners cherish their new-found freedom and are willing to endure hardships to preserve this precious freedom. While still holding on the hope that economic cooperation with the North is still possible, South has embarked on solutions to insulate its economy from current and future shocks emanating from North.

The NCP regime has made a calculated decision that depriving South of its oil export would be a catalyst for regime change in Juba and SPLM’s demise. The NCP’s observation was recently reinforced by the World Bank’s report that predicted dire conditions for the South’s economy. Now, thanks in no small part to the World Bank’s report, all the NCP has to do is wait as South economy implode and cause all kinds of political upheavals. This may not come to fruition because South Sudanese economy is not fully established to suffer in ways predicted in the WB report. Meanwhile in Juba, our government is running around looking for countries and companies to finance an alternative pipeline to Kenya so that South’s economy is not held hostage by Khartoum. So far, this has not been successful at least in the short term.

The reasons given for the reluctance to invest in a new pipeline come down to simple cost-benefit analysis and an international conspiracy to force South to work with North. There are questions regarding the viability of this project because of dwindling oil reserves beneath South and lack of significant discoveries. China is reluctant because its state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation owns major stake in GNPOC consortium that runs and own the existing pipeline running across Sudan. Other countries such as the United States are not eager to encourage building an alternative pipeline because that would lessen the need for cooperation between the two Sudans. In essence, South has found itself being funneled toward settling for a rocky and predatory relationship with its former parent. This is the only door that has been left wide open because it would help restore peace and keep the two countries from resorting to war. The international community is perfectly comfortable with the idea of South continuing to pay half of its oil revenues to Khartoum even though it is going to help Khartoum finance its war on the marginalized people of Blue Nile and South Kordofan and not to mention Darfur. Not only that, Khartoum will use the hard currency to acquire new weapons that would be used against South should there be a need to do so.

Given the barriers being placed on South path’s to economic independence from Khartoum, South needs to recalibrate its expectations and settle for a dual-use infrastructure like railway system between the Kenya’s coast and South’s oilfields. When the United States started on path to industrial revolution and economic prosperity, it did so using railroad that continue to crisscross this great country today. Oil was initially transported using railroad before being piped. It was not efficient but it did the job. Railroad continues to serve an important role today in America’s economy. Farmers in the hinterland are able to transport their produce to urban centers using railroad and then using sophisticated distribution system to reach customers. South would have a relatively easy task finding investors to build railway to Lamu port in Kenya than pipeline that may become unusable in a few decades. I have seen trains with cars or tanks reaching as far back as a kilometer, if not longer, snaking along the banks of the Ohio River. Why can’t this be a way for South to transport its oil and some more? Railway is a multi-purpose infrastructure that can be of use to transport goods cheaply. Trucking goods over dilapidated or nonexistent road is expensive and causes a lot of wear to existing roads. It is also unreliable as a truck can break down or gets bogged down in mud. During rainy reason, vast majority of our roads are impassable. Such an investment would be attractive to Chinese or other companies because there is potential to recoup investment overtime.

While this is not a lasting solution to the need for a more cost-effective way to transport oil to the markets, it gives South the added insurance of not being hassled by Khartoum into settling for a deal that defies economic sense. Using railway to transport oil is also efficient compared to trucks. Right now, the NCP regime has tied economic issues to security issues. Some of the conflicts such as one in Blue Nile and South Kordofan are outside the control of Juba because these regions are fighting for a very legitimate reason. Not even Juba can convince them to accept being exterminated to satisfy the security demands of Khartoum. It is Khartoum that needs to engage the issues causing rebellions and find a solution to its problems. Juba can facilitate finding that solution but it does not hold the keys to what Khartoum must be willing to offer. In this sense, tying what is clearly a political issue to economic cooperation is a sure way to say that solution is not within reach.

South Sudanese are a resilient people and are willing to endure hardships to preserve their economic and political independence. Our government must examine all possible solutions that would guarantee our economic independence so that we meet North as equals. We need to look into using railway system to transport our oil products to the market. Even if it would not meet our need to maintain current production levels, an alternative like railway would give us a chance to negotiate from a position of equals if not strength. It may take a while to build a railway but we should not wait for a crisis to chance upon us before we start thinking strategically.

*The author is a South Sudanese freelance writer and commentator. He can be reached at

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