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Diplomatic missions in Juba express concern at the draft National Security and NGO bills

Canada, Denmark, the EU, France, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and US issued the following statement:

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“The EU Delegation and Heads of Mission of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and United States of America are concerned by draft legislation in South Sudan aimed at regulating the work of the National Security Services and of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The Heads of Mission welcome steps to ensure that the Ministry of National Security has a suitable legal framework within which to operate but agree with opinion expressed recently in the Legislative Assembly that the National Security Bill as currently drafted could contradict fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined within South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution and extant legislation. They support recent proposals in the Legislative Assembly and among Civil Society for further discussion of this Bill, and a review of its text, to ensure that it complies with both national and international standards.

The Heads of Mission are also concerned that rather than facilitate their important work, the NGO Bill being debated in the National Assembly has the potential to limit the space in which civil society and NGOs are able to work in South Sudan. They are firmly opposed to unnecessary restrictions on NGO operations and underline the importance of freedom of association and open civil space in any democratic society.

The Heads of Mission recognise the need for appropriate regulation in both areas and welcome the efforts of the Government of South Sudan to date to enable open consultation. The Heads of Mission call upon the Government to allow for further discussion on both Bills to ensure that they are consistent with the values and laws of the South Sudanese state, provide sufficient checks and balances, and are implemented in full respect of South Sudan’s international Human Rights obligations.”

Published 22 October 2014