THE UNITED PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT
Republic Of South Sudan
UPDM PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8th November 2016
UPDM expresses grave alarm by the decisions of the government of the Republic of Kenya to deport a South Sudanese refugee, James Gatdet Dak, to Juba on the 3rd of November 2016. We are deeply concerned about James Gatdet Dak’s welfare in the hands of the South Sudanese government in Juba and have reasons to believe he is facing torture as a result of his political affiliation.
UPDM strongly condemns the deportation of James Gatdet Dak, which is in violation of the ‘Principle of non-refoulement’ (article 33(1)) of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugeesas well as under customary international law, to which Kenya is obligated. It is therefore unfortunate that the government of Kenya intentionally endangers the life of a refugee under its protection, against the advice of UNHCR.
UPDM commends UNHCR’s quest to ensure the safety of over 87000 (eighty seven thousand) South Sudanese refugees in Kenya, and calls upon the Secretary General of the UN to support this commitment using all means available.
We are further disturbed by the decision of the Government of the Republic of Kenya, announced in a statement issued by their Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 2nd November 2016 to:
- Withdraw, immediately, Kenyan troops currently in deployment in South Sudan, and discontinue plans to contribute to the Regional Protection Force and,
- Disengage from the South Sudan Peace Process
While it’s within Kenya’s sovereignty, we are dismayed by these unfortunate decisions of the Government of Kenya given it’s prominent role and responsibilities as a member of IGAD.
In view of the serious implications of Kenya’s actions, UPDM calls on the AU, TROIKA and the UNSC to immediately:
- Pursue the release of James Gatdet Dak from the hands of the South Sudanese government and transport him to another country, for his safety.
- Request the South Sudanese government to allow UNHCR to visit James Gatdet in detention to ascertain he is not being tortured while efforts for his immediate release are pursued.
- Pressure Kenya to immediately halt any further planned deportations or harassment of South Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya, given the disturbing news of new lists of deportation circulating in social media.
- Call on Kenya to “refrain” from actions that could further jeopardise South Sudan’s peace process and regional cohesion, by remaining a neutral partner and upholding its responsibility to regional stability.
- Appeal to AU member states to withhold their support for Kenya nomination to head the AU Commission as being untenable, primarily due to Kenya’s hasty withdrawal of its commitments to regional and international peacekeeping efforts, regardless of the implications to human lives and regional security entrusted in their care.
The UPDM appeals to the Government of the Republic of Kenya and His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta in particular, to show restraint and statesmanship in the interest of rebuilding confidence across South Sudan’s political spectrum. That Kenya does not turn its back on the universal principles of human rights conventions of which it is a party, but continue playing its positive pre and post 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) role in search of a viable way forward for all the people of South Sudan.
We reassure that UPDM stands with the people and interests of both countries as Kenya and South Sudan share immutable and deep-rooted cultural and economic ties. We appeal to East African Community (EAC) leaders of which South Sudan is a member to exercise their influence to prevail over the current crisis and to uphold the democratic principles and human rights standards to which EAC member states subscribe.
CC.: Government of Kenya, EAC, AU, TROIKA, UNSC, IGAD
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