National, News

NSS Bill a threat to political space

By Philip Buda Ladu

 

Troika countries and friends of South Sudan have expressed grave concern over the passing of the National Security Service (NSS) Act (amendment bill 2024) retaining the powers to arrest without warrants.

The embassies of Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States said in a joint statement that they were alarmed by the development.

The embassies emphasized that the act is a threat to political and civic engagement.

“This would constitute a significant step away from the opening of political and civic space, which is a prerequisite for genuine and peaceful elections to take place,” the statement partly read.

“Enactment of the bill into law would be regrettable at any time, but particularly now when it would undermine the transitional government’s assertions that political and civic space exist,” it added.

The Troika countries and friends of South Sudan stressed the need for all South Sudanese to have the right to participate freely in political and civic expression without fear of arbitrary arrest or intimidation by security personnel.

In February 2023, media reports quoted the Minister of Cabinet Affairs announcing that the President and first vice President had agreed to remove all NSS powers of arrest.

However, these positions were not reflected in the Amendment Bill sent to the Transitional National Legislative Assembly on 28 April 2023

Last week, the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) passed the National Security Act 2014 (amendment Bill 2024), maintaining articles that grant arrest without warrant.

The most contentious sections were 54 and 55, which granted the National Security Service (NSS) unfettered and autonomous authority to detain suspects without a warrant of arrest.

A heated debate over the articles engulfed the TNLA, with lawmakers divided on the merits of the proposed amendments.

During the final voting session, House Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba put the bill to a vote, which resulted in 274 lawmakers voting in favor and 114 voting against, out of a total quorum of 391 members present.

 

 

 

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