SOUTH SUDAN: FOUR PEOPLE EXECUTED IN JUBA AND WAU
November 27, 2013: At least four people were executed by hanging between 12 and 18 November 2013, the South Sudan Law Society (SSLS) reported.
Two of the men had been convicted of murder and were hanged in Juba on 12 November and two others in Wau on 18 November.
The SSLS, a civil society organization based in Juba, was unable to obtain specific information about these executions. Members of the Judiciary declined to provide the names of those executed and the facts of their alleged crimes. It is unclear whether the four individuals had any access to legal representation.
"The Government should disclose the identities of those executed and make public the details of their trials and convictions," said Priscilla Nyagoah, advocacy officer with the SSLS. "This information is necessary to contribute to an informed and transparent national debate."
The SSLS believes that at least fourteen individuals have been hanged since South Sudan gained independence in July 2011. The Government, however, does not publicly disclose information about death sentences or judicial executions. The actual number of individuals executed is likely higher. There are approximately 200 people on death row.
On 29 November 2013, the United Nations human rights office called on authorities in South Sudan to stop the use of the death penalty, stressing that the country’s nascent judicial system may not have ensured fair trials for the more than 200 people on death row. “We are particularly concerned about the limited access to legal representation during trials, including for people sentenced to death,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Cécile Pouilly, told journalists in Geneva.
The overwhelming majority of individuals in prison in South Sudan do not have legal representation or the right to free legal aid in serious criminal, civil, land and family matters, OHCHR said. It also noted that police and prosecutorial services are not available in much of the country and, when available, do not have the resources to conduct proper investigations and prosecutions. Unclear bureaucratic procedural requirements also hinder the exercise of the right of appeal.
In 2012, South Sudan voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Since voting for the resolution, however, senior government officials have said that their vote was a mistake and that the Government of South Sudan would continue to administer judicial executions. (Sources: SSLS, 27/11/2013; OHCHR, 29/11/2013)