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NAIROBI - 12 Feb 2019

Rights groups call for investigation into disappearance of Dong and Aggrey

Kenyan and South Sudanese authorities should ensure effective, transparent, and impartial investigations into the enforced disappearance of two South Sudanese critics in Nairobi more than two years ago, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

On January 17, 2019, a Kenyan High Court ended its 24-month oversight of the police investigation into the disappearances of Dong Samuel Luak, a prominent South Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist, and Aggrey Idri, a member of the political opposition. They were snatched off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017, respectively. The families had initiated the petition for judicial review following concerns that the Kenyan police had not effectively investigated.

“The families of Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Ezbon Idri have waited patiently for the truth for two years, their lives in limbo,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But this decision which lets Kenyan police off the hook, risks sending this case into oblivion and denying the families justice.”

The men’s disappearance is believed by their families and many who follow South Sudanese politics to be the result of collusion between South Sudan and Kenya, but both governments have denied having custody of the men or knowledge of their whereabouts.

 “How long will this charade go on as the families of Luak and Idri continue to languish in agony over their loved ones?” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International last year said they had seen both men in National Security Service (NSS) detention in Juba, on January 25 and 26, 2017.

In late 2018, a former detainee, William Endley, told the media that he had seen Aggrey and that others had confirmed seeing Dong at the prison in the NSS headquarters in Juba. But South Sudan’s government has remained silent and failed to investigate these reports.

The two rights groups said South Sudanese government’s unwillingness to investigate the disappearances and the status and whereabouts of Dong and Aggrey is an abdication of its binding legal obligations, demonstrates total disregard for the men’s fundamental rights, and exacerbates their families’ concerns.