This article was last updated on May 25, 2022
In a press statement Gurtong accessed on Monday entitled South Sudan: Place Moratorium on Death Penalty, the group urges South Sudan to join majority of United Nations’ members that have abolished death penalty.
“South Sudan should take the opportunity of the UN General Assembly resolution on the death penalty to join movement toward abolition of it across Africa and around the world,” says Audrey Gaughran, Africa’s Director at Amnesty International.
“President Salva Kiir Mayardit should immediately declare an official moratorium on executions, and the government should urgently address the continuing shortcomings in the country’s administration of justice,” he adds.
In December 2012, South Sudan will have its first opportunity to vote on a UN General Assembly resolution to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
In a November 5th letter to South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nhial Deng Nhial, the organizations raised concerns about South Sudan’s continued use of the death penalty as a law.
“South Sudan has continued to use the death penalty despite well-documented weaknesses in the country’s legal system, which prevents it from ensuring the basic legal rights of people accused of crimes”, says the joint statement.
On August 28, two men were executed in Juba prison and more than 200 prisoners are on death row.
“Depriving someone of the right to life is an ultimate and irreversible punishment,” said Dong Samuel of the South Sudan Law Society. “Without even the most basic legal protections in place, the risk of arbitrariness and error is too high.”
The coalition of organizations is calling upon the Government of South Sudan to increase public information and transparency about its use of the death penalty, including publishing statistics on the number of executions carried out and death sentences imposed and notifying prisoners’ families of impending executions.
The human rights group argues that such information is important in the time of the constitutional review process.
Globally, more than two-thirds of UN member states- 137 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. These include 37 of the 54 member countries of the African Union.
Since 2000, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo have abolished the death penalty for all crimes. The government of Ghana accepted the recommendation of a Constitution Review Commission to abolish the death penalty in the country’s new Constitution.
Benin became the 75th country worldwide and the 10th in Africa, to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) aiming at abolishing death penalty. In September, Madagascar also signed this treaty.