A United Nations expert group on enforced disappearances* has called on the governments of Kenya and South Sudan to reveal the fate of two South Sudanese men who were abducted in Kenya last month.
There has been no word of the men – Dong Samuel Luak, a human rights activist from South Sudan who had been given refugee status in Kenya, and Aggrey Idri Ezibon, chair of the SPLM-IO’s Humanitarian Affairs Committee- since they were abducted in Nairobi, reportedly with the involvement of security personnel from both Kenya and South Sudan.
Dong Samuel Luak was on his way to board a bus when he was abducted on 23 January and he was last seen in Nairobi town centre. Aggrey Idri Ezibon was last seen on 24 January in the Kilimani neighbourhood of Nairobi at approximately 8:00 am.
The ongoing hearings and recent arrest warrant issued for a suspect linked to these disappearances are positive steps in the right direction,rdquo; noted the human rights experts.
However, efforts must be stepped up so as to ensure credible investigations, including into the alleged role of Kenya security agents, and promptly establish the whereabouts of the two men,rdquo; they said – emphasising that enforced disappearance is a heinous crime and an offence to human dignity.
The expert group also called on the authorities in Kenya and South Sudan to guarantee the safety and protection of the men and afford protection to witnesses who can help establish their whereabouts. Both individuals are members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army In Opposition (SPLM/AIO).
The Working Group stressed any return of the activists or deportation to South Sudan would be in violation of Article 8 of the 1992 UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The measure prohibits the return of a person to any State where there are substantial grounds to believe that he would be in danger of enforced disappearance.
(*) The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Ms. Houria Es-Slami (Morocco) and the Vice-Chair is Mr. Bernard Duhaime (Canada); other members are Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Republic of Korea), Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina) and Mr. Henrikas Mickevicius (Lithuania).
The Working Group was established by the then UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law. It also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
The Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.
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Source: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).