Concerns Regarding Intimidation of Civil Society Members in South Sudan

Press Statement
John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
September 10, 2016

The United States is deeply concerned by the South Sudanese government’s increasing efforts to silence South Sudanese civil society actors.

We have consistently expressed our longstanding concern about the intimidation of civil society representatives to senior South Sudanese officials and have demanded an end to these acts, which have included violence, intimidation, and threats to shut down civil society groups and to seize their assets. Recently, these actions have been taken under the guise of the recently passed Non-Governmental Organizations Act and the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission Act. Together, these Acts are being used to severely limit the ability of civil society and humanitarian organizations to function effectively in South Sudan.

The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan (2011) protects the rights of freedom of expression, assembly, and association. The United States urges the Government of South Sudan to respect these inalienable rights and to allow unhindered political and civic engagement, as these are vital elements for an environment conducive to the stabilization of South Sudan.

A free and vibrant civil society is the cornerstone of any democracy. As South Sudan seeks an end to the conflict, organizations must have the freedom to operate unhindered by government intimidation, and the South Sudanese people need to be free to voice their opinions in order for there to be a lasting return to peace.