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UN report: freedom of expression vital for lasting peace in South Sudan

[JURIST] True reconciliation and lasting peace in South Sudan will only be possible if people are both free and safe to express themselves, regardless of any of their affiliations, according to a UN report [text, PDF] released Thursday.

Conflict has persisted in South Sudan for more than five years, which has led to more than four million people being uprooted from their homes. Now, peace initiatives are underway, but restrictions on freedom of expression are getting in the way [press release] of these initiatives, according to the UN report.

The report identified a number of verified incidents that denied people of their rights to freedom of expression. The incidents include the killing of two people, arbitrary arrests and detentions, loss of employment and the censorship of certain newspaper articles. People who were seen as being critical of the government were the ones who were targeted in these instances.

The report makes a number of recommendations in order to address these issues. The focus of these recommendations is on freedom of expression, ensuring that violations against this freedom are punished and that people are free and safe to express themselves.

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