A senior South Sudanese rebel official has warned Kenya against deporting opposition dissidents to South Sudan, saying it could attract retaliation.
In a statement, Koang Rambang Chol ordered forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar not to allow Kenyan nationals to leave the South Sudan’s newly-created state of Bieh.
“I am ordering all security organs, including military intelligence not to allow Kenyan citizens, including those working in the humanitarian organizations to leave Bieh state territory until further directive from my office,” said Koang.
The directive comes barely a week after two South Sudanese opposition figures, Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Idris, were detained by Kenyan authorities amid fears they could be deported back to the young nation.
Koang said any move by Kenya to deport the duo would be retaliatory and affect relations between the two nations.
“If Dong Samuel is deported to Juba, I am afraid Kenya government would have hit the last nail on the coffin,” he said.
Several human rights bodies, including the New York-based Human Rights Watch have accused Kenyan authorities of unlawfully deporting several prominent opposition members from neighboring countries to their countries of origin, despite being recognized as refugees under Kenyan law.
“Dong Samuel Luak has been a vocal advocate for human rights in South Sudan for many years, and could face serious mistreatment if returned to South Sudan,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“Kenyan authorities should respect his rights, allow him access to legal counsel and United Nations refugee officials, and immediately halt any deportation proceedings against him,” he added.
Kenya has, in recent years, unlawfully deported several prominent opposition members from neighboring countries to their countries of origin, despite being recognized as refugees under Kenyan law and protests by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In November last year, Kenya arrested and deported James Gatdet Dak, the spokesperson for rebel leader, Riek Machar. Dak is currently being held, without charge, at South Sudan National Security Services headquarters.