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2014 | National Security Services Bill of South Sudan

The National Security Bill of South Sudan, shown here in draft form, was passed in Parliament in October 2014. However the Bill was passed despite the absence of constitutionally required quorum of voting members and amidst walkouts by several MPs (see commentaries below).

Provision is made for a new National Security Services Bill under under Article 159 of the Transitional Constitution of 2012 (see elsewhere in this section). However subparagraphs 3-8 of this Article  specifically limit the mandate of the NSS and provide extensive protections, which are not reflected in the new Bill. In particular, the NSS mandate was to ‘focus on information gathering, analysis and advice to the relevant authorities’. Among other stipulations, the NSS was to ‘respect the will of the people, the rule of law, civilian authority, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms’, ‘reflect the diversity of the people of South Sudan’ and ‘be under the direct supervision of the President’.

By contrast the new Bill actually grants extensive Police powers to the NSS (see Art 12). Given the broad powers to arrest under Art 50, the Art 51 provisions for the protection of arrested and detained persons are clearly inadequate (see the critical commentaries by Amnesty International and South Sudanese civil society organizations below).

 While Art 58 provides for the penalty of imprisonment for abuse of power, the effect of this provision is greatly undermined by Article 52 which provides that: ‘No criminal proceedings shall be initiated against any members of the Service nor any measure be taken against the person or belongings of such member without permission from the Minister in case of the officers or from the Director General concerned in case of other ranks, except where he or she is caught committing an offence for which police may arrest without warrant.’ Art. 53 makes plain that NSS personnel are to be tried by the Service Tribunal unless determined otherwise at the discretion of the minister. Art 74(2) indicates that civilian co-accused may also be tried before the Service Tribunal.

 Finally, Art.s 18 and 46 provide for complaints mechanisms for non-members and members respectively, however these mechanisms are effectively only internal ones: under Art 18(1) complaints may be addressed to the officer in charge; under 18(2) complaints addressed to any other public institution are immediately to be forwarded to the Director (General). 18(3) provides for the future establishment of a ‘public relations office’ for the receipt of complaints. However this provision is defined with insufficient detail to provide any significant safeguard.

Here you can read a critical appraisal by Amnesty International in October 2014, and a 'Civil Society Statement' expressing deep concern about the new Bill, published by the South Sudan News Agency the following month.