Kenya Protests to Southern Sudan Over Harassment

Posted to the web April 11, 2007

By Nation Reporter

Kenya has protested over the harassment of its citizens in Southern Sudan.

In an April 8 letter to the Government of Southern Sudan, the Kenyan embassy in Khartoum said truck drivers, businessmen and women were facing persistent harassment, intimidation, beatings and arbitrary detention by Southern Sudan agents.

"The embassy expressed great concern at the allegations, some of which have been confirmed, and called on the Government of Southern Sudan to rein in overzealous security officials and soldiers," a statement signed by embassy official Lindsay Kiptiness, said.

Reports indicate that soldiers manning roadblocks force truck drivers to carry unauthorised passengers or soldiers and in case a driver declines or there is an accident, the driver is fined a huge amount of money. Those who don't comply risk being sentenced to death. Other agents have been accused of extortion.

Reports indicate that one woman was whipped 60 times when she went to report the theft of her mobile phone in Rumbek.

Yesterday, 130 Kenyans announced that they were stranded in Rumbek where they have been building the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army offices in Malou area.

Murder allegations

In an e-mail to the Nation, they said they were working for a company whose two Kenyan workers were being held on murder allegations. The Trax Construction Company employees said their firm, which recruits its staff from Nairobi, is registered in Southern Sudan.

Saying they had not been paid their salaries since January, the workers added they were currently on an 11-day strike.

They accused their employer of being unwilling to return those whose contracts had expired back to Kenya.

According to the e-mail, the workers have been living in poor accommodation since January. They also lacked proper medical insurance covers "forcing us to use Sudanese herbs for medication."

"Our work and stay permits have expired making it hard for us to move around outside the millitary barracks," they added.

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