News / Africa

S. Sudan to Launch Legal Action Against Detained Officials

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir speaks after meeting with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 6, 2014.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir speaks after meeting with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 6, 2014.
Peter Clottey
South Sudan’s foreign minister says President Salva Kiir has instructed the minister of justice to expedite “legal processes” against the detained officials accused of plotting to overthrow the government in Juba.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin also called for the faction led by former vice president Riek Machar to show commitment at the ongoing peace negotiations in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to end the conflict and stabilize the security situation.

Benjamin’s comments followed demands by the international community, including the U.N. Security Council, for the release of the detained officials as part of the peace process to end South Sudan’s conflict.

No release until 'legal processes’ conducted                                                             
The administration in Juba has informed the international community, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the detained officials could only be released after the conclusion of the “legal processes,” according to Benjamin.

“Once these legal processes are initiated, investigation is done [and] charges are made, then there is within our constitution a point at which the president can intervene,” said Benjamin.  “That is when it is possible for the president not to break the constitution, where he can be able to effect the release the detainees according to legal results that come out of that.  So I can assure you that the president is committed to that.”

If Mr. Kiir just releases them, Benjamin says, the detained officials can turn around and take the president and even the country to court and argue they were arrested without evidence.

He said the international community could also ensure the release of the detainees is on the agenda at the ongoing peace talks in neighboring Ethiopia. 

“Let it then be in the agenda of the dialogue as one of the articles as cessation of hostilities.  Let them put the issue of detainees to be discussed by the delegations that are in Addis [Ababa],” said Benjamin.

Some analysts say the government has exceeded the number of days allowed by law to continue to detain the officials without charges or prosecution.  Benjamin conceded the legal process has been slow.

“They should not be held beyond the limited time and that is why the president has urged the minister of justice to expedite [the process] because they also have their constitutional rights that need to be protected,” said Benjamin.

He expressed optimism the peace negotiations will soon lead to a political solution to end the violence.

“We are fully committed to resolving this issue,” said Benjamin.  “We have assured the IGAD countries; we have assured the African Union and even our friends including the United Nations that the [government and] is committed to peace is committed to resolving this issue peacefully.”

Who started the conflict?

Some observers have criticized the administration in Juba for the ongoing conflict that has left more than 1,000 dead and tens of thousands displaced from their homes.  They contend the government is also to blame for the ongoing conflict.

Benjamin disagrees. “The government has the constitutional mandate to protect the sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan,” he said.

“It is the other side that is attacking the government positions. That is why they occupied Bor, [and] Bentiu.  It is incumbent on the government to see that these people do not occupy those positions, because this is sovereignty issues.”

Clottey interview with Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan foreign minister
Clottey interview with Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan foreign ministeri
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ten States 'One Country from: Wau
January 13, 2014 6:26 AM
The detaines shouldn't be released untill the faced the law of justice and Country court..
No Releasement
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 14, 2014 12:59 AM
yes, he is stupid.

by: Kuer Bul
January 13, 2014 5:42 AM
Atlease the UN has pressured the president to think of taking the detainees to prove themselves in court.Detaining without trial is a crime.

by: Wilson Manyuon from: U S A
January 13, 2014 2:26 AM
It is believed that the International community always support the Rule Law and accountability. Is,t it odd that this same International community,united states included that are asking the President South Sudan to release the detainees?
If they were not part of the attempted coup,then let them proof it in the court of Law. Every country have the right to follow their Law of the land. It is this same Law (constitution) that the President sworn in to protect.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs