International News / Middle East

Amnesty calls for release of 35 men detained in South Sudan

In this photo provided by Syrian refugee Fadi Mansour, Mansour is pictured holding a placard reading: '1 year is enough #I need my freedom', at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of the Syrian national, who initially fled Syria in August 2012 to avoid military service and has been detained at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in "inhumane conditions" for one year. According to him and the organisation, he has been held since March 15, 2015 at the airport's "Problematic Passengers' Room," which has no natural light or beds. The rights group said such a prolonged detention "may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, prohibited under domestic and international law". There was no immediate comment from Turkish officials. (Photo/Fadi Mansour via AP)

In this photo provided by Syrian refugee Fadi Mansour, Mansour is pictured holding a placard reading: ‘1 year is enough #I need my freedom’, at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of the Syrian national, who initially fled Syria in August 2012 to avoid military service and has been detained at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in “inhumane conditions” for one year. According to him and the organisation, he has been held since March 15, 2015 at the airport’s “Problematic Passengers’ Room,” which has no natural light or beds. The rights group said such a prolonged detention “may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, prohibited under domestic and international law”. There was no immediate comment from Turkish officials. (Photo/Fadi Mansour via AP)

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Amnesty International on Friday, Apr. 15, called for the release of 35 men the group says are being held illegally and without charge, sometimes for over a year, by South Sudan’s National Security Service.

The arrested men include former state governor Joseph Bangasi Bakosoro, journalist George Livio Bahara and Leonzio Angole Onek, a dean at the University of Juba, the rights group said, noting that the 35 detainees represent “just a small fraction” of individuals who have been arbitrarily detained by the government.

None of the detainees has had access to a lawyer, and many are held incommunicado from their families, Amnesty International said. Some have been tortured at the NSS headquarters building in Juba, Amnesty’s South Sudan researcher Elizabeth Deng told AP.

“Torture, we believe, happens following initial arrest when people are being interrogated, and as punishment for people who break any internal rules,” said Deng.

The law grants the NSS broad powers to arrest and detain, but includes a provision that within 24 hours individuals should be presented before a court, “so NSS law itself is being violated,” she said.

There has been an increase in arbitrary detentions since South Sudan’s civil war broke out in 2013, with most detainees suspected to have links with rebel groups, she added.

South Sudan’s civil war broke out in December 2013 and continues despite a peace deal signed last year between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

Machar is expected to return to Juba next week to take up the post of vice president under Kiir, who in July 2013 fired Machar from the same post in a power struggle that later boiled over into a violent rebellion.

 

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