End Unlawful Detention and Abuse of South Sudanese Civilians

South Sudan Military Guard

Target: President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit

Goal: Stop South Sudanese soldiers from detaining and beating civilians

South Sudanese soldiers recently detained and severely beat as many as 130 tribesmen in the Lakes State region. According to Human Rights Watch, the young men were rounded up following a large inter-communal dispute between a large number of men of the Kok tribe. All the young, male Kok tribesmen in the area were assumed to be guilty, and were detained without evidence before being beaten. Arresting large numbers of civilians like this is inhumane and illegal under international law, and must not be allowed to continue.

According to South Sudan’s Constitution, those charged with any crime may be held for up to 24 hours before police are legally obligated to produce charges, allow suspects to see a lawyer, and to initiate the legal process. However, none of the men arrested in the recent Kok inter-tribal fighting have been informed of their specific charges or allowed to see lawyers. Instead they are being held in a local military barracks and beaten, with few reports being allowed to the outside.

Under international law, it is illegal to hold civilians in an unregulated military detention facility. The arrested civilians were also denied the ability to see their families, and in a number of cases, refused needed medical treatment. Previous reports from the barracks indicate that some of the injuries are quite severe, with some of the illegally detained civilians having been beaten badly enough to result in sever blood loss and heavy bruising.

It is believed that many of the arrested prisoners were arrested as illegal “proxies”–the police knew that they were most likely not involved in the fighting, but arrested them with the goal of encouraging those responsible to give themselves up. Jailing possibly innocent civilians by military order under such wretched conditions is highly unethical, and must be stopped immediately.


Dear President Salva Kiir Mayardit,

Soldiers in the Lakes State region recently arrested over 130 civilians, severely beat them, refused them access to lawyers and medical attention, and illegally detained them in a military facility. These civilians were all Kok tribesmen, arrested following a large inter-tribal fight. However, none of the civilians arrested have been directly tied to the fighting, and are believed to be “proxy” arrests, which are illegal under international law.

Placing civilians who may not be responsible for crime under military detention, beating them, and refusing them medical treatment or legal aid. Those currently imprisoned should be immediately released, and if necessary, tried through a legal and humane process. Furthermore, laws should be enacted so that this does not happen in future.


[Your name here]

Image Credit to Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

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