I am delivering this statement on behalf of the Troika – the UK, Norway, and the United States.
As longstanding friends of the people of South Sudan, we have welcomed the Government’s repeated commitment to addressing human rights challenges, and remain committed to supporting a better future for all South Sudanese. We also welcome the opening of Parliament, a critical institution for debate and accountability.
However, we wish to highlight our deep concerns at unjustified restrictions on freedoms of expression and assembly imposed by the Government in response to calls for peaceful protests. Threats of violence and intimidation by the Government, including threats of live ammunition against protesters, are unacceptable. Civil society actors have been arbitrarily detained and charged with capital offences. These are not the actions of a government listening to the voices of those they serve.
We urge the Government of South Sudan to demonstrate they will listen to citizens. We urge them to promote much-needed public discussion about the country’s future, including by engaging in a credible constitution drafting process.
We urge them to ensure this debate takes place without fear of violence or arbitrary detention. And underpinning this we urge them to uphold the protection and promotion of freedoms of expression and association guaranteed in the Transitional Constitution. We stand ready to support them in doing so.