We are deeply dismayed by reports that the National Security Service forced the cancelation of a civil society panel discussion on the constitutional history of South Sudan on July 17. For peace to take hold, South Sudanese must be able to speak freely. Article 6.13 of South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement states that “The process of permanent Constitution-making shall be led and owned by the people of South Sudan.” As such, the constitution-making process must be open and inclusive, and must incorporate the voices of South Sudanese citizens, whether through the formal process or through the exercise of the freedom of speech and assembly. We take note of the agreement by transitional government parties during the May 25-28 Workshop on the Permanent Constitution-Making Process on the need for an inclusive and participative process.
As we noted in our Troika Statement on South Sudan’s Independence Anniversary, it is critical for the government to accelerate the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. An inclusive constitution-making process is a central part of this agreement. A constitution that is created without input from the citizens will lack popular legitimacy.
We call on the government to ensure the rights of freedom of assembly and expression, as guaranteed by the Transitional Constitution. We have expressed our concerns about this incident directly to the government and will continue to do so.