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South Sudan Government Denies Involvement in Disappearance of 2 Men


South Sudanese information minister, Michael Makue attends a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 5, 2014.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is calling on the governments of Kenya and South Sudan to reveal the fate of two South Sudanese men who were abducted last month in Nairobi.

No one has heard from South Sudanese human rights activist Dong Samuel Luak, who had been granted refugee status in Kenya, or Aggrey Idri Ezibon, chairman of the SPLM-in Opposition's Humanitarian Affairs Committee, since the two disappeared.

A U.N. group of experts believes their abduction involved security personnel from both Kenya and South Sudan.

South Sudan denies role in abductions

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei denied the government played any role in their abduction, saying, "If they have disappeared in Nairobi or they are there, we don't know. What I know is they are rebels."

When pressed about their whereabouts by VOA's South Sudan in Focus program, Makuei responded, “Are we in charge of rebel South Sudanese? They are South Sudanese, yes, but they are rebels.”

Makuei maintained that the government of South Sudan has no idea where the two men are being held.

“Whether they are there or not is for the Kenyan government to answer, not us,” Makuei said. There has been no response from the Kenyan government.

Call for protection

Dong Samuel Luak was on his way to board a bus in Nairobi when he was abducted on January 23. Aggrey Idri Ezibon was last seen on the morning of January 24 in Nairobi's Kilimani neighborhood.

In a statement released on Friday, an OHCHR expert group called on authorities in Kenya and South Sudan to guarantee the safety and protection of the men and afford protection to witnesses who can help establish their whereabouts.

The working group said any return of the activists or deportation to South Sudan “would be in violation of Article 8 of the 1992 U.N. Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.” The measure prohibits the return of a person to any state where there are substantial grounds to believe that he would be in danger of enforced disappearance.

Missing men said to be in Nairobi

While Makuei said South Sudan's government is not aware of the men's exact whereabouts, he said he knows that they remain in Nairobi.

Makuei did not say how he knows the two men remain in Kenya's capital.

He added that the government of South Sudan does not guarantee the safety of a rebel.

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