Rights group calls for end to death penalty in South Sudan

South Sudan must immediately commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment, establish an official moratorium on executions and take steps to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday.

This call came after South Sudan authorities reportedly executed seven people last month, three of whom were from the same family.

Four of them, the rights group said, had been convicted of murder.

This confirms our fears that South Sudan authorities have absolutely no respect for the right to life as they continue to totally disregard the fact that the world is moving away from use of the death penalty, said Seif Magango, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

In 2018, Amnesty International said South Sudan executed more people than in any of the other years since independence in 2011.

The executions, it said, followed the transfer of 135 death row prisoners from county and state prisons to Wau Central prison and Juba Central prison, equipped with gallows to carry out executions.

These reports are extremely concerning, and we cannot even begin to imagine how the families must be feeling. South Sudan must immediately commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment, establish an official moratorium on executions and take steps, without delay, to abolish the death penalty, said Magango.

Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

South Sudan's Penal Code 2008 permits execution by hanging for several crimes, such as murder, bearing false witness resulting in an innocent person's death, and aggravated drug trafficking.

Over 100 countries, out of 195 globally, have reportedly abolished the death penalty. In 2017, however, South Sudan and Somalia were the only countries in the region that carried out judicial executions.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

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