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On S. Sudan, UN Now Worries of Crackdowns After Jal's Beatdown, ICP Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 11 -- Last week, before Emmanual Jal was beaten and robbed by police in his native South Sudan, Inner City Press asked the UN about its silence amid crackdowns in the country:

Inner City Press: the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy had their offices broken into by gunmen. There was also this, another South Sudan Civil Rights Alliance by Deng Mawiir, who was recently kidnapped and tortured. People there are starting to say that if not the Government, some in the Government may be behind these attacks. There was also an anti-corruption guy, Ted Dagne, that had to flee the country, and I am just wondering, what is UNMISS [United Nations Mission in South Sudan]… since there is a UN Mission there that is working closely with the Government, have they had anything to say about this sort of trend of attack on both human rights groups and anti-corruption groups?

Spokesperson: I’ll check with the Mission, Matthew. After all, the Mission does also have a human rights component, so I am sure that they would be monitoring developments and it may be that we have something that we can say on this, but I don’t have it right now. Yes?

On September 11, the following arrived:

Subject: Your question from last week on UNMISS
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 11:40 AM
To: Matthew Russell

Regarding your question from the noon briefing about human rights in South Sudan, we can inform you that the UN Mission, UNMISS, is actively engaged with recent reports of threats against human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists in South Sudan.

In addition to carrying out its own first-hand enquiries in to alleged abuses, such as that involving the abduction of Mr. Deng Athui Mawiir Rehan, the mission has taken up certain cases with appropriate Government agencies.

Government officials have expressed their concerns and have responded quickly to these cases. Moreover, the Government has provided protection for one victim and has announced that it is carrying out investigations. It is noteworthy that the Human Rights Committee of the National Legislative Assembly spoke with President Salva Kiir urging him to address these issues. Finally, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission has also monitored these cases.

UNMISS is investigating and following up with police the recent break in at the offices of the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy.

  But why does it take a public question to elicit such statements, while in other countries the UN just speaks out? Jal said

"Two days after arriving in my home country I was attacked by members of Juba's police and national security. This is an ironic and sad situation that will not deter my path for freedom, equality and justice. I am swollen, but recovering, and thank all the fans and supporters for their well wishes. I would like to express that abuse of power should not be tolerated on any level. South Sudan must move forward with positivity and equality. Tribalism, police brutality, corruption and other problems of de-stabilization must be highlighted and stopped in order for the country to progress."

  Why did it take UN envoy Hilde Johnson longer? Is it her die-hard position on South Sudan? Watch this site.

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