Head of state and government: Salva Kiir Mayardit
Death penalty: retentionist
Country data covers South Sudan and Sudan:
Population: 44.6 million
Life expectancy: 61.5 years
Under-5 mortality: 108.2 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 70.2 per cent

South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July, six months after a referendum under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Negotiations with Sudan continued on the sharing of oil, citizenship and border demarcation. Armed conflict and inter-communal violence led to mass displacement, killings and destruction of property. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained journalists, members of opposition groups and demonstrators. A large influx of South Sudanese returnees and refugees from Sudan continued.


The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (Transitional Constitution) was adopted by the South Sudan Legislative Assembly and came into force on 9 July for an undefined interim period. A provision within the Transitional Constitution allowed for southern members of the Sudan Parliament to be integrated into the South Sudan Legislative Assembly.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) came into effect on 9 July for an initial period of one year. South Sudan became a member of both the UN and the AU later that month.

Leaders of armed opposition groups signed ceasefire agreements with the government, and over 1,500 of their fighters awaited integration into the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). On 23 July, armed opposition leader Gatluak Gai was killed in disputed circumstances, three days after signing an agreement brokered by the local authorities in Unity State. In early August, Peter Gadet, the former leader of the South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A), signed an agreement with the government although breakaway factions from his group remained active under the SSLM/A. Armed opposition leader Gabriel Tanginye and his two deputies remained under house arrest in the capital, Juba, where they had been placed in April following fighting between his forces and the SPLA in Upper Nile and Jonglei. No charges were brought against them by the end of the year.

  • On 4 November Peter Abdul Rahaman Sule, leader of the opposition group United Democratic Front, was arrested in Western Equatoria State for allegedly recruiting young people. At the end of the year he remained in detention without charge.

  • On 19 December, George Athor, leader of the armed opposition group the Sudan Democratic Movement and its military wing, the South Sudan Army, was killed by the SPLA in Morobo County, South Sudan.

Armed conflict

Fighting between the SPLA and armed opposition groups resulted in human rights abuses by all parties, including unlawful killings of civilians and the destruction and looting of property. Armed opposition groups used antitank mines along main roads, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.

  • On 8 October, 18 civilians, including four children, were killed when a bus ran over an antitank mine on the road between Mayom and Mankien. On 29 October the breakaway armed opposition group of the SSLM/A and the SPLA clashed in Mayom, Unity State. The SPLA reported 15 civilians killed and 18 injured.

  • On 16 November, an armed opposition group believed to be loyal to George Athor attacked three villages in Pigi County, Jonglei State, and burned and looted property. Four civilians were reportedly killed and many more fled.

Communal violence

A series of retaliatory attacks took place between the Lou Nuer and Murle, two ethnic groups in Jonglei. On 15 June the Lou Nuer attacked the Murle in Pibor County; several villages were looted and burned and over 400 people were killed. On 18 August the Murle launched an attack against the Lou Nuer in Uror County, where more than 600 people were reported killed and over 200 missing. Seven villages were destroyed. The UN estimated that around 26,000 people were displaced as a result of the fighting. One Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff member was killed and the MSF compound and clinic were looted and burned; the World Food Programme warehouse was looted in the same incident. From 31 December, armed Lou Nuer attacked the Murle in Pibor town, looted the MSF clinic and burned civilian homes. Tens of thousands of people were displaced and hundreds killed by the attack.

Fighting between communities in Mayiandit County in Unity State, on the border with Warrap State, on 17 September led to 46 people being killed and 5,000 displaced.

Freedom of expression, association and assembly

Security forces harassed and arbitrarily detained journalists, members of opposition groups and demonstrators for criticizing the government.

  • On 23 August in Kuacjok, Warrap State, member of parliament Dominic Deng Mayom Akeen was arrested and assaulted by armed security personnel. He was detained for one day in relation to a media statement regarding food shortages.

  • On 30 September, Nhial Bol, editor-in-chief of Citizen newspaper, was arrested and briefly held by the police following an article alleging corruption by a Warrap State minister after the closure of the offices of a Chinese oil company and the arrest of its general manager.

  • On 4 October, secondary school students from Wau in Western Bahr el-Ghazal State peacefully protested against rising food prices and low salaries for teachers. Security forces responded with gunfire and tear gas. At least seven people, including students, were arrested and remained in detention at the end of the year in Wau prison; two people died from gunshot wounds by security forces.

  • Ngor Garang and Dengdit Ayok, chief editor and journalist respectively with The Destiny newspaper, were arrested separately in early November by members of the National Security Services. Ngor Garang was reportedly beaten in detention and both were released on 18 November. It was believed their arrest related to an article criticizing the President.

Torture, other ill-treatment and enforced disappearances

Security forces including the South Sudan Police Service (SSPS) harassed, arrested, tortured or otherwise ill-treated people, including UN and NGO staff. A number of individuals were subjected to enforced disappearance. On 26 July, the President ordered the dissolution of South Sudan's national security and intelligence special branch, and its public security branch. The former director of public security and criminal investigation, General Marial Nour Jok, was arrested and detained on 30 July following allegations of his involvement in the creation of illegal detention centres, as well as torture and corruption.

  • The whereabouts of John Louis Silvino, an architect at the Ministry of Housing, remained unknown following his disappearance on 25 March.

  • In October, four police officers were arrested and faced trial after Jackline Wani, aged 17, was tortured by police from the Criminal Investigation Department following allegations of theft on 13 June.

Refugees and internally displaced people

South Sudanese who had lived in Sudan prior to independence continued to return as they were no longer eligible for citizenship rights in Sudan. By the end of the year, over 10,000 people remained in camps for internally displaced people at Kosti way station in Sudan awaiting return to South Sudan.

From June, there was a large influx of refugees from Sudan after conflict erupted between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the armed opposition group Sudan People's Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N).

Death penalty

More than 150 prisoners were on death row. At least five people were executed: one in August in Juba Prison, as well as two on 11 November and two on 21 November in Wau Prison.

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