South Sudan refugee goes missing after ‘deportation’ from Nairobi
The family of a South Sudanese refugee who had sought asylum in Kenya has declared him missing, weeks after he was allegedly deported from Nairobi.
Morris Mabior Awikjok Bak is said to have been abducted by “armed men wearing police uniform” at his home along Kangundo Road in Nairobi on February 4, after which a local newspaper in Juba reported that he had been extradited to face charges for “abusing government officials”.
The Dawn newspaper cited sources within South Sudan’s National Security Service.
His family told Human Rights Watch (HRW that on the day he was allegedly abducted, his wife was also beaten and that so far, efforts to trace his whereabouts both in Nairobi and Juba have yielded no fruit.
“When you approach someone for answers and they give you nothing, it leaves you feeling vulnerable. It is terrible, like you have no rights,” one of Bak’s four wives told HRW.
According to HRW, Bak, also an activist and a former oil company employee, fled South Sudan for Kenya in April 2021.
“He had reported receiving threats from officials and leaders from his home area of Tonj, in Warrap state, whom he criticised. When he went missing in Nairobi, he was a refugee registered with Kenya’s Department of Refugee Affairs,” HRW said in a statement.
Attempts to get a response from the Refugee secretariat were unsuccessful, with no response to calls and text messages.
HRW is calling on both governments to come clean on Bak’s whereabouts to end the anguish of his family.
“If Kenyan authorities were involved in Bak’s “disappearance”, and if they facilitated his forced return to South Sudan, Kenya would be violating its obligations towards refugees and undermining its regional images as a country that seeks to protect human rights.
“Should South Sudan wish to extradite someone, the process should be legal and transparent, conducted before an independent and impartial court and should comply with the principle of non-refoulement,” HRW adds.
As a party to the 1951 United Nations and 1969 African Refugee conventions, Kenya has committed itself to upholding the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
Countries hosting refugees and asylum seekers are also responsible for providing protection and ensuring their physical security.