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Amnesty welcomes presidential pardon of two prominent detainees in South Sudan

President Salva Kiir signs the Declaration of Agreement in Khartoum on 27 June 2018 (Photo Kamal Omer)
November 1, 2018 (JUBA) - Amnesty International Thursday welcomed the release of James Gatdet Dak spokesperson of SPLM-IO leader and a South African military expert William Endley both had been sentenced to death by special South Sudanese courts earlier this year.

Speaking at a celebration for the signing of the revitalized peace agreement on Wednesday 31 October 2018, President Salva Kiir announced the pardon of Dak and Endley both sentenced to death On 12 and 23 February 2018 respectively.

“The pardoning of James Gatdet and William Endley comes as a relief to all who cherish human rights and abhor the death penalty, but more needs to be done," said Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Joan Nyanyuki.

Nyanyuki further called on the South Sudanese government to commute all death sentences and "get on the right side of history by abolishing this ultimate cruel form of punishment".

In line with the peace agreement, the parties have to release all the prisoners of war and political detainees but the South Sudanese authorities said Dak was sentenced to death and his case was not covered by the presidential amnesty issued on 27 September.

Amnesty further questioned the responsibility of the Kenyan authorities in the case of James Dak who was deported from Nairobi by the Kenyan security services and handed over to Juba on 3 November 2016.

Amnesty said the Kenyan government has to investigate the case of Dak who was a refugee and take action against those who put his life at grave risk.

“The Kenyan authorities have a duty to ensure the safety of all those in its territory, including refugees. It must always uphold their rights under international law,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

The spokesperson of the SPLM-IO leader had issued a statement welcoming the outcome of a UN report on the UNMISS failure to protect civilians during the clashes that took place in Juba in July 2016.

The report said that the commander of UNMISS forces who was a Kenyan military failed to take the security measures required in such a situation. Following what, the UN chief relieved him from his position.

President Salva Kiir ordered to deport the South African military expert to his country directly.

Endley was arrested after the fighting in Juba in July 2016. He was a military expert recruited to advise on the preparation and integration of the rebel fighters into the national army after the return of their leader to Juba in April 2016.