10 December 2012

South Sudan Human Rights Association Calls for Resignation of Security Ministers Over Death of Political Commentator

Juba — South Sudan Human Rights Advocacy Association (SSHURA) on Monday called for the "immediate resignation" of security ministers, charging both the interior and a national security ministers in the office of the president of failing to prevent the assassination of leading opinion writer, Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol, and organised killings in the capital Juba.

Awoul, one of South Sudan's the leading political commentators, was gunned down in his house in Gudele, west of Juba city centre by unknown assailant(s) on Tuesday. His death has generated widespread condemnations and led the information and broadcasting minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, to tell press on Friday that the Interior Minister had briefed the National Council of Ministers, saying that they have begun investigations into the murder and they "suspect 70% to be assassination."

Awuol's body was laid to rest on Sunday in his ancestral village in Kongor payam [district] of Twic East county, Jonglei state.

Special representative of the secretary general of UN in South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson, on Monday expressed her disappointment at the killing of Awuol, stressing that his death reminds the South Sudanese people of the "dark days" of the liberation struggle "against injustice."

She made the remarks at Nyakuron Culture Centre in Juba at an occasion commemorating international human rights day, during which she pledged the continued support of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to promoting the respect of human rights.

Johnson also called on the government to ensure human rights are included in the National Constitution and to allow wider participation from the citizens and political parties in the drafting of governing laws.

Presidential advisor on legal affairs and constitutional development, Telar Ring Deng, who spoke on behalf of president Salva Kiir at the occasion said human rights will be introduced as a subject in schools by 2014. The introduction, he said, will be one of the commitments of the government to ensure that human rights and other civil rights, including free speech, are respected in South Sudan.

The chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, Lawrence Korbandy, pointed out that there are a number of challenges facing the commission and emphasised the need to secure the right to education and the right to freedom of expression. He called on the government to increase the budget of the commission, arguing that a lack of funds prevented the commission from deploying human rights monitors to Jonglei at the start of disarmament process.

The South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) said it is calling once again upon the authorities in Juba to carry out impartial, speedy, fair and well-intended investigations to ascertain who murdered Awuol.

SSHURSA's executive director, Biel Butrous Biel, said the murder marked the "darkest and bloodiest day that will never be forgotten in South Sudan by a South Sudanese or any person who believes in the democratic values and rule of law principles for which Isaiah died."

Biel called on the government to quickly identify the assassins, claiming that the answers "lie with the country's leadership" and that the SSHURSA "will continue to ask until when authorities provide answers."

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