Yei: Two freed from prison, activists to be investigated
Authorities in Yei River County released two activists, a religious leader, and a varsity student from a military detention facility this week, while two other detainees are scheduled to appear in court.
On August 24, 2021, the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) Military Intelligence Unit apprehended Bishop Jackson Yemba of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, activists Justoson Victor Yoasa and Simon Latio, both of whom worked for Yamora, a local NGO, and Simon Latio, a university student.
The three were accused by the authorities of orchestrating a failed demonstration organized by the People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA), a group calling for President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s and his government’s resignation.
In a Radio Tamazuj report seen by NCMP, a family member of one of the detainees confirmed that the religious leader and the student were released on bail with the help of Archbishop Elias Taban of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
“I am overjoyed that Jackson and Simon have been released from custody, and I hope that the remaining two, Robert and Justoson, will be released soon so that they can rejoin their families,” she said. I’d like to thank the government for treating our family members in prison with dignity, and I’d like to inform the world that two of the detainees have been released,” he said.
After spending months in prison, Bishop Yemba, according to the source, requires medical attention.
Another family, speaking on the condition of anonymity, urged the government to release the two remaining detainees, Justoson Victor and Guya Robert, as soon as possible.
“We have been informed that they will be taken to the police station, and we welcome the suggestion that they be taken to the police station.” We demand that they be released because we were told that they would be taken to the police on Tuesday for legal procedures, which we expect to be quick, and we need to see that they are released as soon as possible so that they can rejoin their families,” he added.
The detainees have been held without access to a lawyer or a court hearing for the past two months, a move that has been widely criticised and condemned by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.
Following the arrests of two local activists and a religious leader, local observers say the civil space for freedom of expression and association in Yei River County has continued to shrink.