South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Johannesburg - South Sudan’s Minister of Information Michael Makuei has told the country’s citizens that if they are unhappy with the way Juba is governing there are enough trees in the country for them to hang themselves.

Makuei’s inflammatory comments came as continuing accusations of human rights violations in South Sudan are made ahead of the planned formation of a transitional government in November, the East African reported.

Local and international human rights lobbies, which recently converged at the 6th Human Rights Forum in Juba, expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, particularly abuse and violations meted out by joint security forces,

During the forum, South Sudan government officials, civil society members and representatives from the Troika countries (Norway, the UK and the US) also expressed concern over the shrinking space for human rights’ defenders due to fear of reprisals from the state.

“This is evidenced by the fact that no meeting can be conducted in Juba and other locations in South Sudan without the approval of the National Security Service. This practice is in contravention of the right to freedom of assembly and association under Article 25 (1) of the Transitional Constitution,” they said in their report.

One of the participants, Brian Adeba, the deputy director of Policy at the Enough Project, said that nobody could hold Juba accountable without its endorsement of the process and external pressure.

This endorsement appeared unforthcoming following Makuei’s controversial comments as other government officials also denied any dissatisfaction on the part of the public.

Chief of the defence forces, General Gabriel Jok Riak, recently told soldiers who often go unpaid for months that going without being paid $6 monthly was part of a necessary sacrifice.

Amnesty International released a report on July 18 outlining that besides the widespread crimes against humanity conducted under the pretext of enhancing security, the Juba administration has increased crackdown on peaceful dissent with the intention of avoiding a replication of popular protests in neighbouring Sudan.

African News Agency (ANA)