South Sudan rebels in Kenya in fear of deportation

Wednesday January 25 2017

South Sudanese opposition leader Riek Machar. He is currently living in South Africa where he had sought medical treatment. PHOTO | REUTERS

Two South Sudanese opposition members risk deportation to the conflict-ridden country after they were detained by Kenyan authorities in Nairobi, a human rights body has said.

At the same time, South Sudan rebels are accusing the Kenyan police and intelligence agencies of collaborating with officials in Juba to capture their members in Nairobi and send them back to their home country where they face torture and possible death.

This follows the arrest of a human rights lawyer Dong Samuel and that of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement –In-Opposition (SPLM/SPLA –IO) political bureau member Aggrey Idri by Kenyan authorities.

“Dong Samuel was last seen in Nairobi city centre at approximately 9:00pm on January 23, when he was on his way to board a bus and return to his residence. He never arrived at home,” the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) said on Wednesday.

Of Mr Idri, the commission said he “was last seen in Kilimani (a Nairobi suburb) at approximately 8:00am on the morning of January 24,” adding that “Mr Idri is a vocal critic of the South Sudanese government and active on Facebook.”

Forced into hiding


In another statement sent to The EastAfrican on Wednesday afternoon by Mabior Garang de Mabior, the SPLM-IO movement claimed to have obtained information that President Salva Kiir’s administration was targeting more members of the opposition, including activists based in Nairobi. Juba is said to be collaborating with Kenyan officials to secure the deportations.

“In light of this blatant disregard for the rule of law and not to mention international convention by the Kenyan authorities, the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA-IO in Nairobi have been forced to evacuate or go into hiding for fear of illegal deportation or worse,” Mr de Mabior said in the statement.

KHRC is also accusing the Kenyan government of violating international law on its obligations to refugees.

“Given the serious risk of torture both would face in South Sudan, their deportation would also violate Kenya’s obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture,” it added.

Mr Samuel is said to have been registered as a refugee in November last year having fled his country in August 2013.

Unlawful evacuations

The Human Rights Watch (HRW), similarly, said that in recent years Kenya had "unlawfully deported several prominent opposition members from neighbouring countries to their countries of origin, despite being recognised as refugees under Kenyan law."

The Kenyan government is yet to respond to requests for comment.

In November last year, Kenya arrested and deported, James Gatdet Dak, the rebel leader’s, Dr Riek Machar, spokesman.

Mr Dak is said to be currently being held at the headquarters of South Sudan’s National Security Services, in Juba without charge.

Following his deportation, SPLA-IO detained Kenyan nationals in areas it controlled but later released on orders from Dr Machar.

READ: Rebels assure Kenyans in South Sudan of their safety

Having all along remained neutral since the civil war broke out in December 2013, Kenya has suddenly thrown her weight behind President Kiir with strong indications that the country will no longer allow SPLM-IO cadres to operate freely in the country.

READ: South Sudan neighbours further isolate rebel leader Riek Machar