Joint Statement on the Detention of Peter BiarAjak

The text of the following statement was issued jointly by the Heads of Mission in Juba of Canada, the European Union,France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

We are deeply troubled by the arrest and ongoing detention by the South Sudanese National Security Service (NSS) of youth activist Peter BiarAjak on the morning of Saturday 28 July 2018. He has now been detained for over six days.

We are deeply concerned by the harassment and intimidation of civic actors; restrictions on freedom of expression and association; and arbitrary detention in South Sudan, as documented in the UNMISS and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression in South Sudan and in the Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. This is of great concern in the context of the ongoing peace process, as building trust and maintaining a vibrant civic space is an essential prerequisite of sustainable peace. In this regard, the 2017 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement obliges the parties to at all times protect the human rights of civilians and ensure protection of media and Civil Society.

The Constitution of South Sudan guarantees all South Sudanese people liberty and security of person, due process, and freedom of expression and association. We therefore call on the government to either release Peter BiarAjak, or to bring charges against him in a timely manner in accordance with the rule of law and to grant him access to a lawyer. We also call on the government and all parties to the conflict to encourage, support and safeguard the right of any individual to freedom of opinion and expression.