The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in South Sudan

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#human_rights #international_law #politics #south_sudan #south_sudan_human_rights

South Sudan
Republic of South Sudan

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index194th best
Life Expectancy54.98yrs (2017)2

South Sudan does relatively well in ensuring human rights and freedom, compared to many other countries. S. Sudan does better than average when it comes to speed of uptake of HR treaties3 and in freethought4. And finally, it does worse than average when it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports5, supporting press freedom6 and in LGBT equality7. Since 2013 South Sudan´s civil war has seen atrocities and war crimes committed consistently by both sides, in some cases possibly constituting crimes against humanity8.

1. South Sudan's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Africa (2020)9
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank9
1S. Africa56.1
7Burkina Faso76.1
10S. Sudan90.5
Africa Avg108.2
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)9
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank9
94St Vincent & Grenadines89.2
96S. Sudan90.5
World Avg87.9

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark10. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu10.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe10, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia10.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in South Sudan stated:

Government security forces and armed groups perpetrated serious human rights abuses, including killings, acts of sexual violence, abductions, detention, torture and other ill-treatment, the recruitment and use of children, and destruction of civilian property. At least 24 people were extrajudicially executed, including a child, by government forces. The use of conflict related sexual violence was widespread and systematic, and prosecutions of suspects for this and other crimes under international law were rare. Humanitarian access was restricted and millions of people faced acute food insecurity. The government failed to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to health. Rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly were violated. Death sentences were imposed, and executions carried out. There were concerns that a project to divert water would adversely affect local communities and wildlife.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)11

In 2017, South Sudan´s civil war entered its fourth year. [...] featuring highly abusive government counterinsurgency operations. The government continued to restrict media, suppress critics, and unlawfully detain people for perceived opposition.

Since the start of the conflict, almost 2 million people have been internally displaced, and another 2 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries, with 1 million in Uganda alone. More than 230,000 people are sheltering in six United Nations bases in towns across the country. [...]

Both sides have committed abuses that qualify as war crimes, including looting, indiscriminate attacks on civilians and the destruction of civilian property, arbitrary arrests and detention, beatings and torture, enforced disappearances, rape including gang rape, and extrajudicial executions. Some abuses may also constitute crimes against humanity.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)8

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments


Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better5
80=S. Sudan-5
Africa Avg-5.6
World Avg-1.9
Regarding commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, South Sudan is positioned 78th in the world.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better3
Avg Yrs/Treaty3
21S. Sudan5.41
Africa Avg9.88
World Avg10.02
South Sudan ranks 21st in the world in terms of speed of uptake of HR treaties.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.3. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better6
123S. Sudan3620
Africa Avg3511
World Avg3249
When it comes to supporting press freedom, South Sudan is 123rd in the world.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index12

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

Authorities harassed, detained, and interrogated journalists and editors. [...] South Sudanese authorities restricted international journalists from covering the conflict, including by refusing to grant them visas or accreditation, and accusing them of publishing articles critical of the government. The government blocked numerous independent online news sites.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)8

2.4. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Lower is better
% Victims13
161S. Sudan2.05
164Central African Rep.2.23
Africa Avg0.96
World Avg0.65
When it comes to eliminating modern slavery, South Sudan ranks 7th-worst in the world.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory14. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends15. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life16. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves17.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery18. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity19. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.20. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi21, Eritrea21, Indonesia22) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery23.

For more, see:

3. Prejudice

3.1. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #ICCPR #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
133=Trinidad & Tobago-10
133=S. Sudan-10
133=Papua New Guinea-10
133=Sri Lanka-10
133=Antigua & Barbuda-10
133=St Vincent & Grenadines-10
Africa Avg-10.4
World Avg12.6
South Sudan ranks 133rd in the world regarding LGBT equality.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence24. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws25. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries24. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

3.2. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
29=New Zealand2.0
29=S. Sudan2.0
34=Antigua & Barbuda2.3
Africa Avg3.1
World Avg3.0
In terms of freethought, South Sudan comes 27th in the world.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights26. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish27. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era28 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted29. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief30. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands4,31 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia4,32.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed33. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief27, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion34 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"35 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see: