Child on death row as executions rise in South Sudan – report
South Sudan government has carried out more executions, with a child among seven people known to have been executed so far this year, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
The rights group said this represents the highest number of executions since the world’s youngest nation gained independence in 2011.
“It is extremely disturbing that the world’s youngest nation has embraced this outdated, inhuman practice and is executing people, even children, at a time when the rest of the world is abandoning this abhorrent punishment,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
According to the Amnesty report released today, at least 342 people are currently under the sentence of death in South Sudan, more than double the number recorded in 2011.
"The President of South Sudan must stop signing execution orders and end this obvious violation of the right to life," Joan said.
The rights group revealed that four people, including two who were children at the time they committed the crimes for which they were convicted, were executed last year.
Amnesty noted that it interviewed a 16-year-old boy, who is languishing on death row at Juba central prison, after being convicted of murder that he maintains was an accident.
The use of the death penalty against people who were children at the time of the crime is prohibited under international human rights law and South Sudan’s constitution.
Since 2011, Amnesty said, South Sudanese courts have sentenced at least 140 people to death, and the authorities have executed at least 32 people.
It pointed out that this year’s spate of state-sanctioned executions seems to have been sparked by a directive by the Director General of the National Prison Service on 26 April.
According to the Amnesty report, the Director General of the National Prison Service ordered all death row prisoners held at county and state prisons to be moved to Wau central prison and Juba central prison.
The report also includes the story of a breastfeeding mother put on death row, who was transferred from prisons in the Equatoria region to Juba central prison.
The rights group said any attempt to execute a breastfeeding woman would also contravene South Sudanese law and international human rights law and standards.
“The South Sudanese government must immediately establish an official moratorium on executions, commute all death sentences to prison terms and abolish the death penalty altogether,” said Joan Nyanyuki.
Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.