July 21, 2021 (JUBA) – South Sudan Civil Society Forum have condemned the National Security Service’s (NSS) decision to cancel a panel discussion on the country’s constitutional history.
- South Sudanese people take to the streets as part of a peace march organised by civil society groups in the capital, Juba, on 8 January 2014 (Photo AP/Ali Ngethi)
The event, organised the civil body, was due on July 16.
“The South Sudan Civil Society Forum condemns the cancellation of the Panel Discussion on Constitutional History of South Sudan on July 17, 2021, by South Sudan National Security Service,” the group said in a press statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
According to the civil society forum, the panel discussion was part of a series of panel discussions aimed at creating an environment for youth to discuss, understand and own the country’s constitution.
“National Security officials stormed the venue of the event just before its commencement ordering its immediate cancellation, on claims that there ‘There is no constitution in the country’ and that ‘Only parliament is authorized to discuss the constitution and reconstituted parliament is yet to resume sessions,” the group said.
Also confiscated was the organiser’s banner for the event, which was later retuned.
“The Forum considers the cancellation of this event a gross violation of the constitutional rights of citizens to freedom of expression, association, and assembly and a deliberate move to undermine citizens’ participation in the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement,” noted the civil society forum’s statement.
The civil society body urged the country’s security service to support citizens’ engagement in peaceful as well as constructive activities to prevent violence, destruction and social fragmentation.
The forum further urged the security services to uphold its founding principles as stipulated in Article 6 of the National Security Service Act, 2014, which emphasizes the need to be subject to the authority of the Constitution and the law; respect the will of the people, the rule of law, democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms; while exercising professionalism in its mandate which focuses on information gathering, analysis, and advice to relevant authorities.
Established in December 2017, South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF) is a coalition of more than 200 independent civic groups including civil society organizations, women and youth groups, academia, community-based organizations, and faith-based organizations across South Sudan.
The permanent constitution-making process is part of the peace deal signed in September 2018.