New heat in South Sudan’s resistance to oil pollution

Calls to sue South Sudan’s government in regional court

by Joseph Oduha 
April 30, 2019

A new video has re-energized South Sudanese resistance to the oil pollution sweeping over many parts of the country.Released on April 24th, “Black Tide” shows the toll exacted by the oil industry’s wastes, spills and facility abandonments on South Sudan. 

Its release has been followed by a resumption of calls – notably by human rights defender Keluel Agok – upon South Sudan’s government to take the legal action required to get Asian oil companies – specifically Petronas of Malaysia, China National Petroleum and India’s ONGC – to stop their contamination of oil producing-regions in the country’s north.

Speaking from Uganda, where he has found sanctuary, Agok, former secretary general of South Sudan’s Civil Society Alliance, stated: “Oil pollution’s impact upon communities located in and around oil fields has been a grave concern since 2014. 

This – highly negative – impact has been thoroughly documented in authoritative reports compiled by the Sudd Institute and other reputable organizations. These were submitted to the country’s authorities.”Agok adds: “Despite this, the government has failed to take the requisite action, which would include the government’s and the oil companies’ providing the funds and social services and facilities so desperately needed by the victims of pollution. This failure to act has caused our people’s continuing to suffer.”“This failure has to be immediately corrected by the government. Its refusal to do such would require South Sudanese civil society activists to sue the government of South Sudan and the oil companies operating in it in the regional court with jurisdiction over them,” Agok concludes.

There are precedents for such. The government of South Sudan was recently summoned by the East African Court of Justice to answer for its “arbitrary” detention of defenders of human rights.

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