Republic of South Sudan
Republic of South Sudan
Joined United Nations: 14 July 2011
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 07 April 2013
BILL OF RIGHTS
Nature of the Bill of Rights
9. (1) The Bill of Rights is a covenant among the people of South Sudan and between them and their government at every level and a
commitment to respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in this Constitution; it is the cornerstone of social
justice, equality and democracy.
(2) The rights and freedoms of individuals and groups enshrined in this Bill shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and
agencies of Government and by all persons.
(3) All rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties, covenants and instruments ratified or acceded to by the
Republic of South Sudan shall be an integral part of this Bill.
(4) This Bill of Rights shall be upheld by the Supreme Court and other competent courts and monitored by the Human Rights Commission.
Sanctity of Rights and Freedoms
10. Subject to Article 189 herein, no derogation from the rights and freedoms enshrined in this Bill shall be made. The Bill of Rights shall
be upheld, protected and applied by the Supreme Court and other competent courts; the Human Rights Commission shall monitor its
application in accordance with this Constitution and the law.
Life and Human Dignity
11. Every person has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his or her person which shall be protected by law; no one shall
be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life.
12. Every person has the right to liberty and security of person; no person shall be subjected to arrest, detention, deprivation or restriction
of his or her liberty except for specified reasons and in accordance with procedures prescribed by law.
Freedom from Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labour
13. (1) Slavery and slave trade in all form are prohibited. No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
(2) No person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour except as a penalty upon conviction by a competent court of law.
Equality before the Law
14. All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law without discrimination as to race, ethnic origin,
colour, sex, language, religious creed, political opinion, birth, locality or social status.
Right to found a family
15. Every person of marriageable age shall have the right to marry a person of the opposite sex and to found a family according to their
respective family laws, and no marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the man and woman intending to marry.
Rights of Women
16. (1) Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men.
(2) Women shall have the right to equal pay for equal work and other related benefits with men.
(3) Women shall have the right to participate equally with men in public life.
(4) All levels of government shall:
(a) promote women participation in public life and their representation in the legislative and executive organs by at least twenty-five per
cent as an affirmative action to redress imbalances created by history, customs, and traditions;
(b) enact laws to combat harmful customs and traditions which undermine the dignity and status of women; and
(c) provide maternity and child care and medical care for pregnant and lactating women.
(5) Women shall have the right to own property and share in the estates of their deceased husbands together with any surviving legal heir
of the deceased.
Rights of the Child
17. (1) Every child has the right:
(a) to life, survival and development;
(b) to a name and nationality;
(c) to know and be cared for by his or her parents or legal guardian;
(d) not to be subjected to exploitative practices or abuse, nor to be required to serve in the army nor permitted to perform work which
may be hazardous or harmful to his or her education, health or well-being;
(e) to be free from any form of discrimination;
(f) to be free from corporal punishment and cruel and inhuman treatment by any person including parents, school administrations and
(g) not to be subjected to negative and harmful cultural practices which affect his or her health, welfare or dignity; and
(h) to be protected from abduction and trafficking.
(2) In all actions concerning children undertaken by public and private welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or
legislative bodies, the paramount consideration shall be the best interest of the child.
(3) All levels of government shall accord special protection to orphans and other vulnerable children; child adoption shall be regulated by
(4) For the purposes of this Constitution, a child is any person under the age of eighteen years.
Freedom from Torture
18. No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
19. (1) An accused person is presumed to be innocent until his or her guilt is proved according to the law.
(2) Any person who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his or her arrest and shall be promptly informed
of any charges against him or her.
(3) In all civil and criminal proceedings, every person shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent court of law in
accordance with procedures prescribed by law.
(4) No person shall be charged with any act or omission which did not constitute an offence at the time of its commission.
(5) Every accused person shall be entitled to be tried in his or her presence in any criminal trial without undue delay; the law shall regulate
trial in absentia.
(6) Any accused person has the right to defend himself or herself in person or through a lawyer of his or her own choice or to have legal
aid assigned to him or her by the government where he or she cannot afford a lawyer to defend him or her in any serious offence.
Right to Litigation
20. The right to litigation shall be guaranteed for all persons; no person shall be denied the right to resort to courts of law to redress
grievances whether against government or any individual or organization.
Restriction on Death Penalty
21. (1) No death penalty shall be imposed, save as punishment for extremely serious offences in accordance with the law.
(2) No death penalty shall be imposed on a person under the age of eighteen or a person who has attained the age of seventy.
(3) No death penalty shall be executed upon a pregnant or lactating woman, save after two years of lactation.
22. The privacy of all persons shall be inviolable; no person shall be subjected to interference with his or her private life, family, home or
correspondence, save in accordance with the law.
23. The following religious rights are guaranteed by this Constitution:
(a) the right to worship or assemble in connection with any religion or belief and to establish and maintain places for these purposes;
(b) the right to establish and maintain appropriate faith-based, charitable or humanitarian institutions;
(c) the right to acquire, possess and own movable and/or immovable property and make, acquire and use the necessary articles and
materials related to the rites or customs of religion or belief;
(d) the right to write, issue and disseminate religious publications;
(e) the right to teach religion or beliefs in places suitable for these purposes;
(f) the right to solicit and receive voluntary financial and other contributions from individuals, private and public institutions;
(g) the right to train, appoint, elect or designate by succession appropriate religious leaders called for by the requirements and standards of
any religion or belief;
(h) the right to observe days of rest, celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of religious beliefs; and
(i) the right to communicate with individuals and communities in matters of religion and beliefs at national and international levels.
Freedom of Expression and Media
24. (1) Every citizen shall have the right to the freedom of expression, reception and dissemination of information, publication, and access
to the press without prejudice to public order, safety or morals as prescribed by law.
(2) All levels of government shall guarantee the freedom of the press and other media as shall be regulated by law in a democratic society.
(3) All media shall abide by professional ethics.
Freedom of Assembly and Association
25. (1) The right to peaceful assembly is recognized and guaranteed; every person shall have the right to freedom of association with
others, including the right to form or join political parties, associations and trade or professional unions for the protection of his or her
(2) Formation and registration of political parties, associations and trade unions shall be regulated by law as is necessary in a democratic
(3) No association shall function as a political party at the National or state level unless it has:
(a) its membership open to any South Sudanese irrespective of religion, gender, ethnic origin or place of birth;
(b) a programme that does not contradict the provisions of this Constitution;
(c) a democratically elected leadership and institutions; and
(d) disclosed and transparent sources of funding.
Right to Participation and Voting
26. (1) Every citizen shall have the right to take part in any level of government directly or through freely chosen representative, and shall
have the right to nominate himself or herself or be nominated for a public post or office in accordance with this Constitution and the law.
(2) Every citizen shall have the right to vote or be elected in accordance with this Constitution and the law.
Freedom of Movement and Residence
27. (1) Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of movement and the liberty to choose his or her residence except for reasons of
public health and safety as shall be regulated by law.
(2) Every citizen shall have the right to leave and or return to South Sudan.
Right to Own Property
28. (1) Every person shall have the right to acquire or own property as regulated by law.
(2) No private property may be expropriated save by law in the public interest and in consideration for prompt and fair compensation. No
private property shall be confiscated save by an order of a court of law.
Right to Education
29. (1) Education is a right for every citizen and all levels of government shall provide access to education without discrimination as to
religion, race, ethnicity, health status including HIV/AIDS, gender or disability.
(2) All levels of government shall promote education at all levels and shall ensure free and compulsory education at the primary level; they
shall also provide free illiteracy eradication programmes.
Rights of Persons with Special Needs and the Elderly
30. (1) All levels of government shall guarantee to persons with special needs participation in society and the enjoyment of rights and
freedoms set out in this Constitution, especially access to public utilities, suitable education and employment.
(2) The elderly and persons with special needs shall have the right to the respect of their dignity. They shall be provided with the
necessary care and medical services as shall be regulated by law.
Public Health Care
31. All levels of government shall promote public health, establish, rehabilitate and develop basic medical and diagnostic institutions and
provide free primary health care and emergency services for all citizens.
Right of Access to Information
32. Every citizen has the right of access to official information and records, including electronic records in the possession of any level of
government or any organ or agency thereof, except where the release of such information is likely to prejudice public security or the right
to privacy of any other person.
Rights of Ethnic and Cultural Communities
33. Ethnic and cultural communities shall have the right to freely enjoy and develop their particular cultures. Members of such
communities shall have the right to practice their beliefs, use their languages, observe their religions and raise their children within the
context of their respective cultures and customs in accordance with this Constitution and the law.
Right to Housing
34. (1) Every citizen has the right to have access to decent housing.
(2) The State shall formulate policies and take reasonable legislative measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive
realization of these rights.
(3) No one shall be evicted from his or her lawfully acquired home or have his or her home demolished save in accordance with the law.
Arab colonization of northern Sudan brought Islam in the 650's. A treaty, or baqt, with the kingdom of
Makuria was signed between the Egyptians and held until the collapse of the Makuria Kingdom in the
14th century during which southern Sudan remained largely nomadic. In 1820 the Ottoman Empire
conquered the north renaming it Turkiyah, as Christian missionaries from present day Kenya traveled
north to Christianize the southern region known as the Sudd. Religious conflict from the east led to a
British expedition from Egypt in 1898 and the establishment of a British condominium in 1899, pushing
out Belgium and French claims by 1910. Self rule discussions began in 1943 that excluded much of the
southern provinces that, to many in the region, delegitimized recognition of the Sudan state. On 1 January
1956, Sudan achieved independence with the adoption of an interim constitution. A series of coups and
disagreements with the south delayed the establishment of a permanent constitution until 1968 which
established Sudan as an Islamic state, leading to a civil war between north and south that lasted until
1972. A series of bloodless coups ensued but peace remained until the reigniting of sectional hostilities in
1983. A new constitution was promulgated in 1998 and a brief peace ensued in 1989, but the government
was unable to cobble together an effective governing coalition and the civil war continued until a
permanent peace treaty was forged between the Christian South and the Muslim North in 2005 that
effectively allowed southern autonomy for six years and an option to consider secession after that time. A
referendum was held from 9 to 15 January 2011 to determine if South Sudan should declare its
independence from Sudan, with 98.83% of the population voting for independence. (The results for that
referendum were released on 30 January 2011.) Those living in the north and expatriates living overseas
also voted. This led to a formal independence on 9 July. Work on a transitional constitution began on 21
January 2011 with the formation of a technical review committee empowered by presidential decree to
amend the 2005 Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan. This undated, "undocumented" document (i.e.,
there is at the source Web site no precise date given for the document nor is there any wording internal or
external to the document which describes it as being the revised or unrevised draft released in April 2011)
bears the seal of the "Government of Southern Sudan. Human rights are enumerated in Part Two (Bill of
Rights) are detailed below and conform with the terms and obligations as set forth in the 1948 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, of which South Sudan is the most recent signatory. For a full English
translation of South Sudan's Transitional constitution, click here.