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Rights entities urge S. Sudan to reverse Dak’s death sentence


February 14, 2018 (JUBA) – A group of South Sudanese human rights groups in the diaspora have called on South Sudan government to drop charges against James Gatdet Dak, the former spokesperson for the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar.

James Gatdet Dak sits inside the dock in the High Court in Juba, South Sudan February 12, 2018. (Photo Reuters-Samir Bol)

A South Sudan court on Monday sentenced to death by hanging Dak, citing multiple provisions in the constitution as the basis upon which the verdict was reached. He faced several charges including treason.

The lead-defence lawyer Monyluak Alor Kuol, however, described the court verdict as a political decision.

But the various human rights groups, in a statement, said Dak was innocently accused and his imprisonment was only politically motivated by his affiliation to the country’s armed opposition faction.

“James Gatdet Dak was kidnapped on November 4th, 2016 at his residence in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, by the Kenyan authorities after his comments on his Facebook page regarding the dismissal of Mr. Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, a Kenyan citizen, working as a commander of the United Nations’ forces in South Sudan,” partly reads the group’s statement.

“The Kenyan authority acted in an irresponsible manner by violating the international law for refugees’ protection by deporting James Gatdet Dak to South Sudan regardless of his refugee status”, it adds.

The court verdict, they said, violated Article 19.6 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, which says it is the right of the accused to defend himself or herself through a lawyer of their own choice.

“The court is also dishonoring the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) Article 8.3 of demobilization signed on December 21st, 2017, which states that all the political prisoners and detainees shall be released within 14 days after the signing of the agreement,” the group’s statement, also extended to Sudan Tribune, reads further.

The groups have urged the government to demonstrate its commitment to the freedoms of expression and the protection of civilians instead of conducting politically motivated prosecutions.

“Real leadership is needed if Kiir’s regime is to convince South Sudanese and the world that his government is genuinely supporting public opinions and the freedom of press for pursuit of peace”, they said.

The rights groups called on South Sudan government to respect its own constitution and the recent ceasefire accord and release all political detainees so as to give room for peace in the young nation.

They further called on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, U.S congress, European Union, regional bloc (IGAD), Troika countries, African Union, all international human rights organizations, faith based groups and human rights activists to use their power and immediately intervene and stop the politically motivated prosecutions against Dak by the government.

The Alliance for South Sudan in Diaspora, Global Partnership for Peace in South Sudan, Nile Peace Development Relief Agency (USA) and South Sudan International Advocacy for Human Rights (SSIAHR) signed the petition.


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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 16 February 12:46, by Charles Majok

    South Sudan claims to be a democracy. How can a critic of the government, a kleptocracy, be condemned to death? The unfair trial and condemnation to death of Gadet Dak is a clear proof of the incessant violation of human rights by the ’transitional government’ of South Sudan. How can an ’elected government or president’ prioriotise the murder of its opponents.

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