Weaker laws abetting human smuggling in South Sudan- gov’t

Weaker laws abetting human smuggling in South Sudan- gov’t
The co-chair of passports, ministry of interior for taskforce to counter trafficking in-persons and smuggling migrants, Maj Gen Nyang Thichot. [Mamer Abraham, The City Review]

South Sudan lacks robust laws that can adequately fight human trafficking.

 According to the co-chair of passports, the ministry of interior for the task force to counter trafficking in-persons and smuggling migrants, Nyang Thichot, the country needs to step up to match up to the surveillance needs if it is to effectively fight the crime.

Nyang revealed that the government is eyeing the ratification of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes and the Palermo Protocol, a UN Protocol to prevent, suppress, and punish trafficking in human beings.

Our laws of 2009 and 2008 are very shallow; they don’t even have a definition of “trafficking persons.” We are in the process. “Tomorrow, next week, you might be invited to (the ministry of interior) to be given the report about trafficking persons in South Sudan,” Nyang said. 

“They are expecting us to stick to the UN Convention, two protocols, and two conventions (and) we are doing that.” But because it goes slowly from the ministry of interior to the ministry of justice…and to the cabinet, one needs a process.”

Nyang said the ratification of the convention would enable the world to extend a helping hand to South Sudan to curb human trafficking and smuggling of people.

“There is no regional cooperation because we do not see everybody in the world unable to assist us without that convention,” he added.

Giving up the fight?

The Director General of the Directorate of Civil Registry, Nationality, Passports, and Immigration (DCRNPI), Atem Marol Biar, said he had given up on a silent search for smuggled migrants into the country due to obstruction from media reports.

“When we make checks of foreigners, you say immigration is arresting people. We are looking for human trafficking.” When we leave them, you say no, you are sleeping,” Atem stated.

“I stopped doing silent searches last year because of media houses. South Sudan is a centre of human trafficking. We need to identify them (people), so that we can verify their documents, and when they are captured, they are sent back to their countries. “

According to Atem, his administration has so far deported 21 people, and six more were awaiting court judgment so that they could be deported to their home countries.

“They start from Ethiopia to Gambella, to Fangak, and from Fagak they exit Sudan. That was the main route. “Last year when I came, I immediately I closed the Fangak route and established an immigration office.” 

He said South Sudan has joined the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of people with the help of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) with the Renk border with Sudan being the focal point. 

In January 2022, the Director for Information and Public Relations at the Directorate of Civil Registry, Nationality, Passports and Immigration, James Mapuor Acuoth, reported a case of human trafficking and smuggling of persons into the country, but traffickers were still at large.

He stated that they were investigating a case involving four Eritreans who were smuggled into the country from Bole international airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia without valid documents.

“They turned up at Juba airport without any proper documents.” When asked, they said, some people put (them) in the aeroplane and (they) found (themselves) at Juba International Airport,” Mapuor narrated.

He noted that the traffickers were yet to be arrested as investigations were still continuing.

“We have not yet arrested any traffickers, but we are conducting an investigation.” This is a regional concern and South Sudan also wants to (exert) efforts so that this will not happen,” he concluded.

On May 18, 2021, a report on human trafficking from the international organization for immigration (IOM), stated that South Sudan was the “major route” for human trafficking.