South Sudan warned over freedom of expression

 South Sudan warned over freedom of expression

Western diplomats in South Sudan have said the government should respect freedom of expression, including the right to peaceful protest.

Their joint statement follows the arrest of a number of activists in the wake of a call by a group calling itself People’s Coalition for Civil Action, which is allegedly planning an anti-government protest on Sunday.

The diplomats said freedom of expression was needed in parliament and in society at large, adding that freedom of assembly must also be protected.

They pointed out that these were universal rights enshrined in South Sudan’s transitional constitution.

The government had reassured diplomats in July that it respected these rights.

“The recent actions taken by the government, including threats to use live ammunition against peaceful protesters, harassment of journalists and media organisations, arrests of civil society representatives and intimidation of the citizens, are not compatible with the government’s stated commitments,” the diplomats said.

The government has not commented on the statement, which was signed by, among others, the embassies of the UK and the US as well as the EU delegation.