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UN rights chief urges South Sudan to reverse expulsion of human rights officer

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] on Friday urged South Sudan to reverse an expulsion order [press release] against a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) [official website] staff member, claiming the government has given no good reason to support the order. Pillay said that since the government has not provided any evidence of serious misconduct by the staff member, it is in breach of its obligations under the 2011 Status of Forces Agreement between the Government of South Sudan and the UN concerning UNMISS [text], echoing the statements of another UN official [JURIST report] made last week. The South Sudan government said when the staff member was expelled that it was due to her publishing misinformation about human rights abuses to the international community. Pillay says this accusation alone is "utterly unsatisfactory and unacceptable." The expelled staff member is currently at a UN center in Uganda awaiting a decision on whether she will be able to return to South Sudan.

South Sudan has repeatedly been criticized for its human rights abuses since becoming an independent nation. Last week Amnesty International [advocacy website] sent a letter [JURIST report] to a government official urging the country to abolish the death penalty and stating that its executions do not even meet the minimum international standards provided by law. After a visit to the country in May, Pillay noted concerns [JURIST report] with the country's detention procedures, impunity among security forces, discrimination against women and minorities and capital punishment practices. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] also criticized [JURIST report] the country's government in February for its failure to timely prosecute those responsible for an attack on ethnic minorities that killed thousands. South Sudan is still a new nation, only officially being recognized as an independent nation [JURIST report] last year.

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