Three ministers in Lakes State snubbed the state assembly before which they were expected to appear and explain why six teachers are still being detained in military barracks.
The minister of education Nelson Makoi Makur, local government minister Chol Kuotwil Manhom, and legal affairs minister John Thon Kuat were to appear before the state legislative assembly on Tuesday.
Ruben Majak Nhial, Ater Ariau, Mabor Mapuor, Makur Nyot, Marol Chol, and Ater Ahou have remained in detention at the Panda military barracks after more than 30 others were freed. The teachers were arrested last month for demanding clearance of their salary arrears.
Mary Athiei Paul, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee for education, told Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday that the three ministers were summoned to explain why six teachers are being held by the military. She revealed that the ministers failed to appear before the lawmakers.
“We were told that there is no need to summon the other two ministers. Only one minister who arrested the teachers is to be summoned. So, we summoned the minister of education Nelson Makoi Makur. Now, we are still waiting for him until Monday next week and when he fails again, then we shall see what will be the result of his failure to appear before the parliament,” she said.
Mary further said she visited the teachers who are currently in detention in Panda military barracks, pointing out that their health conditions are deteriorating.
“All of them are suffering from skin diseases, their bodies are swelling with a lot of rashes. Also, I met the wife of one of the detained teachers. I asked her about their family condition at home and she explained to me their suffering,” Mary explained.
Meanwhile, Daniel Laat, a civil society activist in Lakes state confirmed that the six teachers are still in military detention centres in Rumbek.
The activist underscored that the teachers are being detained without clear charges, saying the procedure to arrest and detain the teachers was illegal.
Under South Sudan’s laws, detainees – whether arrested by the police or the security services – are accorded basic rights. The constitution provides that the detainee should be taken before a court of law within 24 hours of arrest.