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Amnesty Accuses South Sudan of Unlawful Detentions


Global rights group Amnesty International has accused South Sudan of violating human rights by holding dozens of people without trial since a deadly crackdown last year on protests in Bahr el Ghazal state, and called for a full investigation.

"There are currently over 10 MPs and civil servants being detained in Wau prison... over 20 police officers and four prison guards... in police custody, as well as members of the fire brigade who were arrested on 12th February," Khairunissa Dhala, an Amnesty International program officer for Sudan and South Sudan, said in a phone interview.

"Amnesty is calling on the government of [South] Sudan to ensure that these alleged violations are adequately investigated and the perpetrators held to account," she said.

Dhala's comments came a day after Amnesty International issued a report about "human rights violations committed by the authorities, including the
security forces, in Western Bahr El Ghazal State between December 2012 and January 2013."

The report says that 24 people were killed and more than 60 injured in Wau, the capital of Western Bahr el Ghazal state, in December 2012, "during protest actions and reprisal attacks following a decision by the state government to relocate Wau County headquarters from Wau to Bagari, 19km away.

"Eleven deaths were at the hands of state security officers, who opened fire on protestors, while 13 deaths were the result of inter-ethic clashes that broke out after the killing of the protestors," it says.

Dhala told VOA News that most of the lawmakers and civil servants who are still in detention were detained because they were opposed to the relocation of the county headquarters.

Local officials have said they were arrested for fomenting violence in Wau after the announcement of the decision to relocate the county headquarters.

A spokesman for the government in Juba said Amnesty's accusations were "devoid of the real facts on the ground."

An investigation by the national and local governments was already under way, and "people have reconciled," said spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin.


Amnesty called in its report for "a thorough investigation into the largely unreported events" in Wau, and urged the international community to back Juba's efforts to conduct "impartial investigations into the unlawful killings" and arrests, Dhala said.

The detainees' cases are due to go to trial this week, according to Amnesty.

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the  South Sudan In Focus radio program.
     
    Before joining VOA, John worked in Nairobi, Kenya where he established the first independent radio station (Sudan Radio Service) for the people of Sudan. He has covered several civil wars both in Sudan and South Sudan and has been engaged in the production of civic education materials for creating awareness about post conflict issues facing Sudanese and South Sudanese. John has interviewed South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, Vice President Wani Igga, leader of Sudan’s Umma Party Sadiq Al Mahdi in addition to other senior United Nations and U.S government officials in South Sudan and Washington. His travels have taken him across to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, DRC Congo and parts East Africa where he reported on the South Sudanese diaspora and the challenges facing them.
     
    A South Sudanese national, John enjoys listening to music from all over the world, reads academic books, watches documentaries and listens to various radio stations on the internet.  You can follow John on Twitter at @Abusukon

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