South Sudan News Agency

Wednesday, Jan 28th, 2015

Last update07:59:22 AM GMT

You are here: News

Civil society statement on National Security Services Bill

Introduction

November 9, 2014 (SSNA) -- We, the undersigned South Sudanese civil society organizations, are writing to express our deep concern with the National Security Services (NSS) Bill, 2014 that has reportedly been passed by the National Legislative Assembly and is now awaiting the President’s signature. The NSS Bill in its current form is a threat to the very national security that it purports to protect. In our opinion, the Bill and the manner in which it is being developed violates the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan on both substantive and procedural grounds. In order to bring the legislation into conformity with the Transitional Constitution and to ensure that the public is given sufficient opportunity to provide input on the draft legislation, we recommend that the Government of the Republic of South Sudan:

1. Reframe the mandate of the National Security Service to focus on intelligence gathering;
2. Ensure the protection of due process and fair trial rights; and
3.  Restart the law-making process to correct procedural irregularities.

Reframe the Mandate to Focus on Intelligence Gathering

The constitutional mandate of the National Security Service is stipulated in article 159(3) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan. It states:

“The National Security Service shall be professional and its mandate shall focus on information gathering, analysis and advice to the relevant authorities.”

The Transitional Constitution envisages a National Security Service that is restricted to an intelligence gathering function only and does not have the police powers of arrest, detain, subpoena, search and seizure, and use of force. The NSS Bill, however, contradicts this constitutional mandate by granting the Service broad policing powers. According to article 12 of the NSS Bill, the National Security Service shall exercise the following powers:

(b) Request any information, statement, document or material from any suspect and potential witness for perusal, keep or take necessary or appropriate measures in respect of such information, statement, document or thing;

(c) Summon, investigate and take particulars and depositions from any suspect and potential witness;

(d) Monitor, investigate and conduct search of suspect and places;

(e) Seize property connected with an offence in accordance with the law;

(f) Arrest and detain suspects in accordance with the provision of this Bill;

(i) Undertake necessary search and investigation for disclosure of any situation, fact, activity or factors which may endanger the national security and safety of the nation in accordance with provisions of this Bill;

(o) Monitor frequencies, wireless systems, publications, broadcasting stations and postal services in respect to security interest so as to prevent misuse by users.

The mandate as conceived in the NSS Bill is thus inconsistent with the Transitional Constitution and should be reframed to focus on intelligence gathering only.

Ensure Due Process and Fair Trial Rights are protected

The broad mandate stipulated in article 12 of the NSS Bill is made all the more troubling by the lack of safeguards against abuse of power by National Security personnel. In its current form, the NSS Bill does not protect detainees’ due process and fair trial rights, including the right to counsel and the right to be tried within a reasonable period of time. There are no protections against cruel and inhuman treatment or torture. Nor does the legislation stipulate permissible places of detention. The lack of attention paid to the rights of citizens is shocking, given the many examples that we have in South Sudan of people being arbitrarily detained, harassed and subjected to torture and mistreatment at the hands of people purporting to represent the National Security Service.

Correct Procedural Irregularities

Particularly concerning are the allegations that the NSS Bill was passed at its third reading without a quorum in attendance. Article 71(4) of the Transitional Constitution states that “[t]he quorum for ordinary sittings of the National Legislative Assembly shall be more than half of the members.” According to media reports, only 84 lawmakers were present for the vote. Media outlets also reported that the draft legislation was distributed to members of parliament (MPs) immediately prior to the vote, not leaving a sufficient time period for review. Indeed, a significant number of MPs are said to have left the hall in protest to the legislation. In order to correct these mistakes and allow additional time for deliberation, the National Legislative Assembly should restart the law-making process and ensure that sufficient time and notice is provided for robust public debate.

Conclusion

The NSS Bill in its current form does not provide the foundation that is needed for a targeted and effective National Security Service. If this bill is signed into law, South Sudan will be one step closer to recreating the oppressive security apparatus that the South Sudanese people are all too familiar with from our time spent under the Sudanese state. Given the importance of national security to our young nation, it is important that we enact carefully considered legislation that provides a foundation for a strong and effective national security apparatus. Creating a National Security Service that enjoys the full support of the people of South Sudan requires far more public input than was allowed for the current draft legislation. We therefore request that the President withhold assent because the Bill violates the Transitional Constitution on both procedural and substantive grounds, and return it to parliament. The legislative process should be started anew to allow for the public hearings and consultations that are necessary to create a piece of legislation that will stand the test of time.

Signatories:

1. Centre for Livelihood, Research and Poverty Reduction (CLIP-Povert.
2. Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ)
3. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO)
4. End Impunity Organization (EIO)
5. Equatoria Relief and Development Association (ERADA)
6. Foundation for Youth Initiative (FYI)
7. Human Rights Documentation Organization (HURIDO)
8. Institute for the Promotion of Civil Society (IPCS)
9. Juba Civic Engagement Centre (JCEC)
10. Organization for Nonviolence and Development (ONAD)
11. Peace and Development Collaborative Organization (PDCO)
12. Standard Action Liaison Focus (SALF)
13. South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA)
14. South Sudan Civil Society Alliance (SSCSA)
15. South Sudan Democratic Engagement, Monitoring and Observation Programme (SSuDEPMOP)
16. South Sudan Law Society (SSLS)
17. South Sudan Network for Democracy and Elections (SSUNDE)
18. South Sudan Women with Disabilities Network (SSWDN)
19. Soweto Community-Based Organization (SCBO)
20. Support Peace Initiative Development Organization (SPIDO)
21. The ROOTS Project
22. Voice for Change (VFC)
23. Women’s Development Group (WDG)

SPLA and its Foreign Allies Launch Fresh Attacks on Rebels’ Positions in Unity State: Chief Negotiator

Addis Ababa, November 8, 2014 (SSNA) -- South Sudanese Rebel Chief Negotiator General Taban Deng Gai, has sent a protest letter to IGAD head Negotiator, accusing South Sudan’s government of launching fresh attacks on their positions in Unity State. A copy of the correspondence which was signed by Deng and sent to the Chairperson of IGAD Special Envoys for South Sudan, Ambassador Seyuom Mesfin, was obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA).

The attacks come just less than 24 hours after the two warring sides agreed to honor the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement which was signed in January this year.

“We make this statement to bring it to the attention of the Chairperson of IGAD Special Envoys, H. E. Seyuom Mesfin, that the Government has again launched fresh attacks on our positions in Unity State this morning,” Gai wrote.

The letter also stated that combined forces of government troops, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and Sudan People’s Liberation army-North (SPLA-N) attacked their positions in Tor and Hofra.

“On November 8, 2014, GRSS, JEM and SPLA-North forces advanced from Bentiu and Pariang and attacked our positions at Tor and Hofra in Unity State,” he said.

The rebels’ Chief negotiator condemned the attacks and called on IGAD, Troika countries (UK, US, and Norway), and the United Nations to denounce South Sudanese government's actions and demand an investigation.

“SPLM/SPLA condemns in the strongest terms possible the continuous aggression and violation of Cessation of Hostilities Agreement by the regime in Juba and calls on IGAD, Troika and the United Nations to condemn these unproved attacks by GRSS forces and investigate these aggressions,” Gai added.

Fighting has been raging with both sides repeatedly accusing each other of breaking the January 2014 truce.

Kiir-Machar closed door meeting crumples

Addis Ababa, November 7, 2014 (SSNA) -- An IGAD-led closed-door meeting between President Kiir and South Sudanese Former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, has ended without any agreement. The conference subsided after many hours of intense negotiation at the Sheraton Hotel, the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) has learned.

The conference between the two rivals was organized specifically by IGAD heads of States, Special Envoys of the Troika countries (Norway, the United States of America, and United Kingdom), and African Union’s Envoys to South Sudan.

In the meeting, Kiir and Machar engaged in a blistering discussion, with President Kiir asking Machar to drop his rebellion and join his government while Machar lectured kiir on the goodness of federalism and other democratic alternatives that can be utilize to solve the current crisis.

Dr. Machar told gathering that he prefers to seek consultation, adding that the people will decide not him. Machar was accompanied by Dr. Dhieu Mathok Diing, the Chairman of External Relations Committee for the SPLM-in Opposition, and Taban Deng Gai, the head of rebel’s negotiation team.

On the government side, President Kiir was accompanied by his Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, and Nhial Deng Nhial, the chief negotiator for the government.

The heated discussion between the two opposing sides left many Observers confused, forcing IGAD to adjourn the meeting for two weeks. IGAD also asked Kiir and Machar to cease hostility.

After the summit, the SSNA talked to Puoch Riek Deng who is the Public Relations Officer for the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SSRRA). Puoch said the way kiir talked at the meeting shows that he is not ready for peace, adding that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition (SPLM-O) wants peace; he blames Juba for peace failure.

“We are ready for peace, but we are not ready to sign peace with Juba if there is no an agreement that addresses fundamental issues like federalism, constitutional reforms, justice, accountability, and democracy,” Puoch told to the South Sudan News Agency.

"...compensation and repatriation for the victims [of war] is critical to peace in South Sudan; establishing special tribunal which is hybrid in nature to try those who committed atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity shall form the basis of just peace," he added.

Among the agendas on the table include power sharing, roles of prime Minister, security arrangement, new constitution, among others. The SSNA has also learned that discussion about power sharing caused the meeting to breakdown.

More Articles...

Page 25 of 236

Our Mission Statement

To bring the latest, most relevant news and opinions on issues relating to the South Sudan and surrounding regions.

To provide key information to those interested in the South Sudan and its people.