January 23, 2019
(Aggrey Ezbon Idri (L) and Dong Samuel Luak. © Private/Human Rights Watch)
Two years ago, South Sudanese lawyer Dong Samuel Luak disappeared off the streets of Nairobi, Kenya. I recently sat with Kur Lual, Dong’s law partner, in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. Holding his head in his hands, he asked me, “How does someone like Dong disappear just like that?” It’s a question many others inside and outside of South Sudan are still asking themselves.
Dong fled South Sudan in August 2013, but continued to denounce human rights abuses and corruption there from his new home in Nairobi. Just one day after his disappearance on January 23, 2017, a South Sudanese government critic and political opposition member, Aggrey Ezbon Idri, also went missing in Nairobi.
The Kenyan government denied having both Dong and Aggrey in custody despite reports from their families that they were being held by the police and awaiting deportation. Meanwhile, other reports indicate that by January 25, the two were already being held by South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS), forces known to commit abuses including unlawful detentions and torture. A Kenyan court ordered the police to investigate the disappearance of the two, but questions about how they disappeared, who was responsible for their abduction, and how they got into South Sudan remain unanswered.