War-torn South Sudan passes tough security laws: Reports

 South Sudanese lawmakers have passed tough new laws granting security forces sweeping powers to arrest without a warrant, a bill that rights groups have condemned as "flawed", reports said Thursday.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 09, 2014, 20:11 PM IST

Juba: South Sudanese lawmakers have passed tough new laws granting security forces sweeping powers to arrest without a warrant, a bill that rights groups have condemned as "flawed", reports said Thursday.

The law boosts the already powerful and much feared National Security Service (NSS), although all whom they arrest must appear in court within 24 hours.

Human Rights Watch said the bill -- which must still be signed by President Salva Kiir before formally becoming law -- sanctions the "national security service`s abusive and unlawful detentions and interrogations."

Before the vote Amnesty International called the bill "flawed" and warned it would grant security forces the ability to make "virtually unrestricted powers of arrest" in the war-torn young nation.

Catholic Radio Network reported the tiny minority of opposition lawmakers walked out in protest before the vote, while Eye Radio reported it was then passed after the bill`s fourth reading.

Thousands of people have been killed and almost two million have fled more than nine months of fighting between government troops, mutinous soldiers and ragtag militia forces divided along tribal lines.

The much feared NSS has cracked down on journalists, suffocating debate on how to end the fighting.

South Sudan`s civil war broke out in December after a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar.

Civilians have been massacred, patients murdered in hospitals and churches, and entire towns including key oil-producing hubs have changed hands several times.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.8 million have fled since fighting began.