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Kenya accused of colluding with Juba in disappearance of activists

Thursday May 02 2019
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Undated pictures of South Sudanese activists, Aggrey Idri (left) and Dong Samuel Luak. A UN report says the two were likely executed in South Sudan on January 30, 2017. PHOTOS | COURTESY

By KEVIN J. KELLEY

Two leading human rights group accused Kenya on Tuesday of colluding with South Sudan in the apparent abduction in Nairobi in 2017 of a pair of activists opposed to the Juba-based government headed by Salva Kiir.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International noted in a joint statement that a United Nations panel of experts has now concluded that the two South Sudanese — lawyer Dong Samuel Luak and human rights activist Aggrey Ezbon Idri — were likely executed in South Sudan on January 30, 2017.

Mr Luak and Mr Idri had apparently been kidnapped on the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017 respectively.

“The men’s disappearance is widely viewed to be the result of collusion between South Sudan and Kenya,” HRW and Amnesty said.

“Kenya and South Sudan failed miserably in their duty of care toward Dong and Aggrey,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes Region.

KIDNAPPED

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“Dong was registered as a refugee in Kenya and for him to be kidnapped in Kenya and taken to South Sudan to be executed, is appalling.”

The panel of experts on South Sudan said in a report to the UN Security Council issued on Tuesday that it has corroborated evidence “strongly suggesting that both Aggrey and Dong were kidnapped in Kenya by the Internal Security Bureau of South Sudan, which is part of the National Security Service.”

“The Internal Security Bureau team transported the two men from Kenya to Juba in a commercial plane on 27 January 2017, chartered with the help of the Embassy of South Sudan in Nairobi,” the report added.

Citing accounts from “multiple, highly credible and well-placed sources,” the panel said “it is highly probable that Aggrey Idri and Dong Samuel Luak were executed by Internal Security Bureau agents at the Luri facility on 30 January 2017” on orders from top South Sudan security officials.

The Luri facility is located on property near Juba owned by President Salva Kiir, according to HRW and Amnesty.

DENIALS

“The UN experts panel’s finding that Dong and Aggrey were most likely murdered days after their abduction while family and friends were stonewalled by Kenyan and South Sudanese authorities shows shocking cruelty,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

The Kenyan and South Sudan governments have both denied involvement in, or knowledge of, the disappearances of Aggrey and Dong.

Amnesty and HRW reject those claims as implausible.

“Both governments must end the blanket denials now, tell the families and the world what exactly happened to the two men and bring those responsible to account,” Amnesty's Magango said on Tuesday.

Kenya's High Court ruled in January of this year that the Kenyan police had acted “prudently and within the law” in their investigation of the two South Sudanese men's disappearance in Nairobi.

The court advised that the victims' families should pursue administrative remedies such as filing a complaint with the Internal Police Oversight Authority.

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