ctivist Kanybil Noon has just been released without charges after spending almost 120 days in arbitrary detention.
Also a member of the Strategic Defense and Security Review Board under the Revitalized Peace Agreement, Noon was detained by the national security on May 29, 2020.
In June, Amnesty International said Noon was charged with defamation, a case initiated by the Director of the Internal Security, Akol Koor in late 2019.
It says he was accused of writing a public letter on his Facebook – addressed to President Salva Kiir – in which he criticized Koor.
“We are very grateful that he has been released despite the fact that he spent 117 days in detention without charges,” Biel Boutros, defense lawyer, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Boutros went on to say the young man has been warned against criticizing the state.
“He was just told to go out and not to speak against the state or things that are of conspiracy against the state,” he stated.
South Sudan did adopt a constitution in 2011 which, overall, guarantees freedom of expression and the right to information.
It is nonetheless regrettable that restrictions were worded in a sufficiently vague way that the authorities can interpret them in an overly restrictive manner.
Since the start of South Sudan’s internal armed conflict in December 2013, hundreds of people, mostly men, have been reportedly detained under the authority of the NSS and Military Intelligence Directorate in various detention facilities in Juba.
Many of those who have been detained have been held under the category of “political detainees” on allegations that they have communicated with or supported the opposition, writes AI.
Others, for instance Michael Wetnhialic was detained multiple times for criticizing the Director of the NSS on Facebook.
Amnesty International says it has documented numerous arbitrary detentions by the NSS in multiple facilities where detainees are often subjected to torture and other ill-treatment – some held incommunicado without access to a lawyer, or family members.
Others have been forcibly disappeared. Prolonged and arbitrary detention, as well as enforced disappearances and torture and other ill-treatment have all been frequently used by the authorities in South Sudan since the initial outbreak of the conflict in December 2013.