South Sudanese HRD Edmund Yakani Receives Death Threats
South Sudanese human rights defender Edmund Yakani has been subjected to death threats after being invited, among other stakeholders, to participate in a consultative meeting held in Juba this morning. Civil Rights Defenders urges national authorities and the international community to stand united in its condemnation of these threats, as well as in its support of the country’s independent civil society.
The consultation addressed the contentious issue of South Sudanese states and their boundaries, according to media reports. The formation and boundaries of regional states are among the major stumbling blocks remained unresolved and is likely hindering the formation of a unity government within the deadline of 22 February 2020.
At the time of declaring independence in 2011 the country had 10 states. In 2015 however, President Salva Kiir increased the number of states to 28 and later to 32 in the middle of a civil war that started in December 2013. The decision was taken by the president unilaterally and has been widely criticized by the opposition, which argues that the constitution and 2015 peace agreement clearly define 10 states and their borders.
The 2018 ‘Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan,’ which came into being to save the 2015 peace agreement, set a new deadline that requires the two warring parties to form a unity government. The parties already failed to meet the first deadline and now, time is running out for them to resolve their differences on key issues.
Today’s meeting came at the backdrop of this stalemate and fear for the country to miss another chance. Edmund Yakani – a leading voice for human rights in South Sudan – had been invited to participate alongside government officials and other stakeholders.
Prior to the meeting, Edmund Yakani received several anonymous phone calls – two urging him to support the 10 states solution and three to support the 32 states solution. All phone calls included death threats.
In 2017, Edmund Yakani received the 2017 Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award. He is also a member of our security programme Natalia Project.
Civil Rights Defenders is in contact with Edmund Yakani and monitors the situation closely. We urge national authorities and the international community to stand united in its condemnation of these threats, as well as in its support of the country’s independent civil society.
For more information about the human rights situation in South Sudan, download our country report: New Country, Old Beginnings.