22 February 2018, Juba – Members of the Youth Coalition on the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) and Civil Society Forum are outraged and disheartened by the action of National Security Service personnel, who interfered with and closed a meeting to debrief the youth on the HLRF phase II at the Women Union on Wednesday, February 21, 2018.
About 70 youth representatives from different organizations gathered for the debriefing on outcomes of the second phase of the HLRF. Speakers in the event included an official youth representative at the HLRF. However, half way through the event, two individuals who identified themselves as NSS personnel stormed the venue of the event and ordered the organizers to immediately end the program. The reason they have given is that the event had not been approved by NSS. The youth complied and canceled the event.
The Youth Coalition deplores this interference and restrictions on citizens’ fundamental freedoms and liberty. Any peaceful meeting of the youth on the HLRF is never a threat to national security of the Republic of South Sudan.
The action of these two personnel directly contravened Article 15(1) of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access, signed between the Transitional Government of National Unity and opposition political groups in Addis Ababa on December 21, 2017. The Agreement calls on the parties to encourage civil society to support and promote this Agreement. The practice that citizen groups need to get prior permission from NSS before holding meetings such as held by the youth contravenes the constitution. Specifically, it conflicts with, Article 25(1) on citizens’ freedom of peaceful assembly in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 (as amended).
The Civil Society Forum urges the NSS to stop the encroachment on such civic spaces seeking to constructively contribute in the efforts to bring peace to South Sudan. We call on all authorities concerned to cooperate with and support citizens’ engagement in the peace process, particularly the youth and women, in their contributions to the HLRF.
Notes to the Editor
1. Spokesperson available for interview on this issue. For more information about the incident and/or arrange for interviews, contact; Wani Michael Via firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +211 95 920 0722
2. The Youth Coalition on the HLRF is a consortium of over (70) youth groups who are working together to effectively engage in the HLRF process.