Exiled government critic tracked and abducted in Nairobi
On 22nd February 2023, President Salva Kiir and the First Vice-President, Dr Riek Machar, resolved their disagreement regarding sections 54 and 55 of the National Security Act by agreeing that the National Security Service (NSS) should not be allowed to arrest citizens without a warrant. As a result, these two sections should be repealed, a small step in the right direction that does not change the fact that the constitutional mandate of the NSS does not permit it to make any arrests. The NSS has been credibly accused of kidnapping, arbitrarily arresting, torturing, forcefully disappearing, and even summarily executing citizens, HRDs, and government critics, including at its infamous “blue house” in Juba.
On 4th March 2023, South Sudan President Salva Kiir fired the Defence and Interior Ministers, Angelina Teny and Mahmoud Solomon, respectively. This move violated the terms of the 2018 revitalised peace agreement. According to the agreement, Riek Machar's party, SPLM-IO, is responsible for appointing the defence minister. Concerns have been mounting since the ruling party of President Kiir, SPLM-IG, took control of the strategic position.
Where is Morris Mabior Awikjok Bak? The refugee and activist from #SouthSudan has gone missing in #Kenya.— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) February 21, 2023
He appears to have been forcibly disappeared. Both governments should act now.
Read more in today's #DailyBrief: https://t.co/e2UzljiyTt pic.twitter.com/ZtGqB3oWIl
On 21st February 2023, a group of men dressed in police uniforms and claiming to be from the Nairobi Anti-Terror Police unlawfully abducted a vocal critic of South Sudan’s government, Morris Mabior Awikjok Bak in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The authorities deported him to Juba just four hours later to face charges of allegedly “abusing government officials.” Unidentified individuals had previously destroyed his communication devices in the apartment he shared with his family. Bak fled South Sudan for Kenya in April 2021 after receiving threats from officials in Tonj, Warrap state, whom he had criticised.
On 14th March 2023, the NSS released two of the seven journalists from the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), Victor Ladu and Mustafa Osman, who had been arrested on charges related to video footage allegedly showing the President wetting himself during a public ceremony in January 2023. On 18th March 2023, authorities freed the last two South Sudanese journalists, Garang John and Jacob Benjamin, of the group of seven detained since January.