South Sudanese officials decided to expel a United Nations human rights staffer on Sunday, in a decision that the international governing body has roundly condemned.
South Sudanese authorities justified the move to media Sunday, claiming that staffer Sandra Beidas had produced “unethical” documents regarding the political situation in the nascent sub-Saharan African nation.
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“It’s the first person on human rights to be [declared] persona non grata,” Barnaba Marial Benjamin, a South Sudanese government spokesman, said on Sunday, according to Al Jazeera.
Beidas was reportedly given a mere 48 hours to leave the country, according to AllAfrica.com.
She had been conducting research into South Sudan’s human rights situation, amid concerns that the government is allowing more and more violations, said the BBC.
Benjamin claimed the woman had been “reporting on human rights issues that she could not verify and has been publishing without justifications. This is unethical.”
The UN’s mission in South Sudan, otherwise known as UNMISS, condemned the move, claiming it was a “breach of legal obligations,” according to AllAfrica.com.
“Human rights monitoring, investigation and reporting, and building capacity, is a core element of the mandate of UNMISS which must be protected,” said UNMISS head Hilde Johnson in a statement.
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South Sudan officially split from Sudan in 2011 after years of struggle, and has been attempting to figure out where it stands on human rights issues since. Recent reports indicate that Kenyans residing in the nation’s capital of Juba have been harassed and discriminated against, according to KBC News.
In 2011, Benedict Sannoh, the former head of the United Nations human rights division in South Sudan, was taken from his hotel room and beaten by South Sudanese police forces, reported the New York Times.
According to the UN’s South Sudan website, the mission there focuses on reintegrating refugees from Sudan to South Sudan, humanitarian assistance, and political stabilization, among other goals.