Two South Sudanese dissidents have been detained in Kenya and could face deportation back to South Sudan, where another opposition figure deported last year has been held without charge, activists said on Wednesday.
Rights groups demanded the release of the two men saying they would be at risk if they were sent back to South Sudan, which has been embroiled in conflict for more than three years.
Dong Samuel, a lawyer and human rights advocate who has been a vocal critic of South Sudan’s government, was last seen in Nairobi late on Monday making his way home, but he did not reach his residence, Amnesty International’s Elizabeth Deng said.
Samuel is registered with the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
Aggrey Idri, chairman of the South Sudanese opposition’s humanitarian affairs committee, was last seen in Nairobi on Tuesday morning, Deng said. Idri was not registered with UNHCR.
Their lawyer, Eddy Orinda, confirmed the details, saying both men were at risk of deportation, basing his information on sources following their case. However, he said police had neither confirmed nor denied they were being held.
Reuters could not immediately reach the Kenyan police or South Sudanese officials for comment.
“In recent years, Kenya has unlawfully deported several prominent opposition members from neighbouring countries to their countries of origin, despite being recognised as refugees under Kenyan law,” Human Rights Watch said.
Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said Samuel was “at serious risk of arbitrary detention, torture and other abuses if returned to South Sudan,” urging Kenya to respect its international obligations to protect him.
Kenya deported South Sudanese opposition spokesman James Gatdet Dak in November 2016 to South Sudan, even though he had refugee status. Amnesty said he had been detained without charge in Juba since then.