Joint submission ahead of South Sudan’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Ahead of the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of South Sudan, DefendDefenders and the South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN) submitted a report highlighting human rights violations pertaining to freedoms of opinion and expression, association, and peaceful assembly. South Sudan’s UPR comes at a critical juncture, as the country marked 10 years of independence on 9 July 2021. 

While South Sudan’s government has taken measures to create peace and signed the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict (R-ARCSS) to reach a permanent ceasefire, we remain concerned over the situation in the country. Concerns mount over violations and abuses, as well as increased restrictions on civic space. 

The joint submission examines the extent to which the South Sudanese government has implemented the recommendations it accepted during its 2016 UPR. An analysis of recent developments indicates an increase in attacks on civil society, journalists, and HRDs. Freedom of expression is routinely violated through arbitrary arrests, prolonged detention, increased surveillance, physical attacks, and torture of critics. 

This submission outlines a number of action-oriented recommendations, which we encourage the South Sudanese government to implement. In particular, we urge the government to create an enabling operating environment for civil society and the media. We encourage the government to amend and repeal restrictive laws that refrain HRDs, journalists, and citizens from exercising freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association, and freedom of peaceful assembly, bringing them in line with international standards. 

The UPR process involves a review of the human rights records of all UN member states, every four and a half years. The state under review receives recommendations from other UN member states, which they can either accept or note. Civil society can participate in the process by submitting reports and suggesting recommendations regarding the state under review. 


Read the full submission


Human Rights Defender of the month: Kasale Maleton Mwaana

Kasale’s human rights activism precedes his years. The son of pastoralist parents from Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania, he grew up seeing his parents and entire community having to defend their land and way of life against authorities who thought their lands could be put to better use. Now, at 25, Kasale is already one of the most recognizable advocates of his people’s cause, much to the ire of Tanzanian authorities.
“Our people’s struggle goes back many generations. It started with the pushing out of our forefathers from Serengeti to gazette Serengeti National Park in 1959, and then further evictions from the Ngorongoro crater to gazette the Ngorongoro conservation area in 1975. Since then, every generation has had to resist further evictions. It’s now my generation’s turn,” he says.