The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
South Sudan is not a State Party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 21 of which governs the right of peaceful assembly.
The right of peaceful assembly is, though, a fundamental human right that is part of the corpus of customary international law. It is also a general principle of law.See Art. 38(1), 1945 Statute of the International Court of Justice.
At regional level, South Sudan is a State Party to the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, Article 11 of which governs the right of peaceful assembly. It is a signatory to the 1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court.
The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Article 25(1) of the 2011 Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan provides that: "The right to peaceful assembly is recognized and guaranteed...."
There is no primary legislation governing public assemblies in South Sudan.
The Legal Framework on Use of Force During Assemblies
The Use of Force
International Legal Rules
Under international law, the duty on the State and its law enforcement agencies is to facilitate the enjoyment of the right of peaceful assembly. According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:
In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.
All force used by police and other law enforcement agencies must be necessary for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and prioportionate to that purpose.
The 2009 Southern Sudan Police Service Act allows necessary and reasonable use of force by the police.
The Use of Firearms
International Legal Rules
According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles, in the dispersal of violent assemblies, a law enforcement official may only use a firearm against a specific individual where this is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life.
The 2009 Southern Sudan Police Service Act does not specifically govern police use of firearms.
State Compliance with its Legal Obligations
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
South Sudan is not a State Party to the ICCPR.
In its 2016 Universal Periodic Review under the UN Human Rights Council, the need to respect the right of peaceful assembly was addressed by many stakeholders.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has not addressed the right of peaceful assembly in South Sudan.
Views of Civil Society
According to Freedom House's 2019 report on South Sudan:
South Sudan’s commitment to freedom of assembly under the interim constitution is rarely put to the test in the current conditions of war, displacement, and hunger, as demonstrations seldom occur. Past protests have been met with excessive force by the authorities.