OpEd, Politics

 Blatant Discrimination and Questionable Legality of Immigration Officials’ Practices in South Sudan

By Gama Hassan Oscas

In recent years, South Sudanese immigration officials have faced scrutiny over their practices of conducting random checks in markets and streets to search for individuals they deem as foreigners without valid travel documents. Even more alarming is the fact that these officials seem to target individuals solely based on their skin color and height, leading to a disproportionate impact on the lives of light-skinned South Sudanese nationals. This article aims to critically examine the legality of such actions and question the provisions that empower immigration officials to engage in such discriminatory practices.

Discriminatory Practices and racial profiling: it is deeply troubling that immigration officials in South Sudan employ skin color and height as the primary criteria for determining a person’s nationality. Such practices clearly amount to racial profiling, as they single out and subject light-skinned individuals to harassment and brutality while disregarding dark-skinned individuals. These discriminatory practices undermine the fundamental principles of equality and human rights, perpetuating systemic racism and alienating a section of the population.

The assumption that all light-skinned individuals are foreigners is not only unjust but also illogical. South Sudan, like many other nations, is a diverse country with citizens of various skin colors and physical characteristics. This misguided and outdated perception highlights the need for comprehensive training and awareness programs for immigration officials, focusing on non-discriminatory methods for identifying potential undocumented individuals.

Legal Basis for Immigration Checks: while it is essential for countries to maintain control over their borders and immigration processes, the manner in which immigration officials conduct these checks must be in line with the rule of law and respect for human rights. The relevant legal provisions that empower immigration officials to conduct such searches should not be used to justify racial profiling or discriminatory practices.

Typically, immigration laws provide authorities with the ability to question and request identification documents from individuals suspected of being in the country without proper authorization. However, this does not mean that officials have a free pass to target individuals based on their appearance alone. The power granted to immigration officials should be used judiciously, with proper guidelines to prevent abuse and discrimination.

The Need for Proportional and Targeted Checks: Instead of randomly conducting searches in markets and streets, immigration officials should focus on targeted checks at entry and exit points, such as border crossings and airports. This approach ensures a more efficient allocation of resources and minimizes the likelihood of subjecting innocent individuals to harassment.

Targeting specific areas or individuals based on racial or physical characteristics lacks a rational basis and is a waste of resources. A more effective strategy would involve the use of intelligence and data-driven approaches to identify potential areas with a higher likelihood of unauthorized immigration activities.

Impact on Society and the Image of the Nation: The impact of such discriminatory practices extends far beyond the immediate victims. Entire communities are affected by the fear and anxiety that come with the constant threat of harassment and mistreatment. This breeds a sense of mistrust between the government and its citizens and undermines the nation’s social fabric.

Moreover, South Sudan’s international reputation is tarnished when reports of racial profiling and human rights violations come to light. Such practices can damage diplomatic relations and hinder cooperation with other nations. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is essential for South Sudan to uphold human rights principles and portray itself as a responsible member of the global community.

Conclusion: The discriminatory practices employed by South Sudanese immigration officials in the search for individuals without valid travel documents are deeply concerning and should be critically questioned. Racial profiling based on skin color and height not only violates the principles of equality and human rights but also undermines the integrity and image of the nation.

To rectify this situation, it is crucial for the government to implement comprehensive training programs for immigration officials, emphasizing non-discriminatory practices and respect for human rights. Additionally, immigration checks should be proportionate, targeted, and intelligence-driven to ensure more effective and lawful enforcement of immigration laws.

By adopting a fair and just approach to immigration enforcement, South Sudan can protect its borders while upholding the values of equality, justice, and human dignity for all its citizens, regardless of their skin color or physical appearance. Only then can the nation truly progress towards a more inclusive and harmonious society.

The writer can be reached on the E-mail: oscarsgama@gmail.com


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