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Africa Regional Media Hub | Statement on Reports of Harassment of Civil Society Actors in South Sudan

Last weekend, the Security Council visited South Sudan to show solidarity with its people and to see firsthand the devastating effects on innocent civilians of nearly three years of conflict. What we saw was chilling – people living in destitute conditions and terrified to leave civilian protection sites, parents struggling to feed their families, and brave civil society activists trying to improve conditions for their fellow citizens despite threats to their own personal safety.

The Security Council’s visit offered an opportunity for civil society actors to share their experience working on behalf of the South Sudanese people in the midst of a man-made political, humanitarian, and security crisis. As such, I am outraged to learn that the South Sudanese government harassed and threatened civil society actors following the Council’s visit. The United States condemns any attempts by governments to silence freedom of expression, and we condemn all restrictions on civil society actors who organize peacefully and provide constructive criticism. The voices of civil society must be elevated, not silenced.

We are engaging directly with the Government of South Sudan to underscore that intimidation and threats toward civil society must cease immediately. South Sudan’s leaders must allow civil society to carry out its work freely, and they should focus on settling this conflict once and for all so that all South Sudanese people can live with security and dignity.

Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Department of State.