Dong Samuel Luak, a South Sudanese human rights lawyer and activist and Aggrey Idri, a vocal government critic and member of the opposition, disappeared off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017, respectively.
“Opponents of the South Sudan government have been targets of abuse and threats apparently from government sources, even when outside the country’s borders,” said the press release.
Numerous activists and opposition members who fled South Sudan have reported threats and intimidation by suspected South Sudanese government agents in the region.
Luak fled South Sudan in 2013 but continued to denounce human rights abuses and corruption after he moved to Nairobi in August 2013.
On January 27, 2017 a Kenyan court ruled that the men should not be deported, but by then both had been forcibly disappeared and presumably illegally transferred to Juba.
In February 2017, non-governmental organisations and family representatives filed a habeas corpus petition in a Kenyan court for the men’s release, but the court found on February 22 that there was insufficient evidence that they were ever in Kenyan custody.
The judge ordered police to open a criminal investigation, which is ongoing.
South Sudanese authorities denied having custody of the men.However, Amnesty International and HRW received credible reports that the men had been seen in custody at the National Security Services (NSS) headquarters in Juba on January 25 and 26, 2017, and were then removed on January 27.
The two organisations believe they were transferred to another facility under the control of the South Sudanese government.
The forcible disappearance and return of the men to South Sudan, violates international law as well as regional and national Kenyan law, said the rights groups.
“Enforced disappearances and torture are both crimes under international law in all circumstances and may be subject to prosecution as war crimes or crimes against humanity.”
“While Kenyan authorities have denied any involvement in or knowledge of the illegal actions, in recent years, Kenya has allowed the deportation of several people with refugee status to their countries of origin,” stated Amnesty and HRW.
Since South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013, the NSS has arbitrarily detained dozens of perceived opponents, often torturing and ill-treating them with electric shocks, beatings and harsh conditions. - African News Agency (ANA)