Freedom in South Sudan

The Political Context, State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Capital: Juba

Population: 12,575,714

GDP 2016 (US$ million):  2,904.11

Language: English

Political Regime Type: One-Party Totalitarian Dictatorship (De Facto)

President: Salva Kiir Mayardit

Current Political Context

  • South Sudan now was in its fourth year in 2017
  • The power sharing agreement signed between the two parties (president Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar) did not end the fighting

State of Democracy

  • The implementation of the 2015 peace agreement effectively was stalled
  • Government has done little to end widespread abuses against civilians

State of Rule of Law

  • Little has been done to hold those accountable for sexual violence committed by government soldiers
  • In July, a meeting of South Sudanese and AU officials in Juba to plan for the hybrid court was a step toward ensuring justice for the most serious crimes committed during the country’s conflict, but much remains to be done

State of Human Rights

  • The government has continued to restrict media, suppress critics, and unlawfully detain people for perceived opposition
  • Almost 2 million people are internally displaced and 2 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries
  • Famine was declared in conflict-afflicted areas
  • Both sides of the war have committed abuses that qualify as war crimes and may also constitute crimes against humanity
  • UN described South Sudan as one of the world’s most dangerous places for aid workers—at least 83 killed since the conflict started in December 2013, with 16 in 2017 alone
  • Sexual violence is extremely pervasive both from government troops and opposition fighters
  • There has been clear pattern of arbitrary detention, abuse, and torture by government forces since the conflict began
  • South Sudanese authorities restricted international journalists from covering the conflict, including by refusing to grant them visas or accreditation, and accusing them of publishing articles critical of the government
  • The NSS and the Military Intelligence Directorate subjected people believed to be opponents of the government to enforced disappearance

Freedom House Democracy Index Score (2018): 2/100