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UN experts concerned over extrajudicial killings in S. Sudan

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UN Commission on Human Rights in Sudan (from left) Yasmin Sooka, Chair, Andrew Clapham and Barney Afako (2018), by UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (Twitter Photo)

July 29, 2021 (GENEVA/JUBA) - The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has expressed “grave” concerns over the wave of extrajudicial executions being carried out by government forces in Warrap State.

The Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it documented 14 incidents of extrajudicial killings in Warrap, resulting in execution of 29 males, including boys and elderly men since March this year.

In most reported cases, the Commission on Human Rights noted, South Sudan army (SSPDF), National Police Service, or National Security Service either carried out or were present within the vicinity of the executions.

"Extrajudicial executions have been an on-going violation in South Sudan for several years", said the Commission’s Chairperson, Yasmin Sooka.

"This escalation in extrajudicial executions that we are now seeing in Warrap is utterly disturbing and seems well-planned and coordinated,” she added.

The official accused the state government of ordering the killings in complete contravention of judicial processes demanding trial of suspects.

“This reprehensible practice evinces a complete disregard for the rule of law and the rights of the accused persons", noted Sooka.

According to the Commission, South Sudan’s weak institutional capacity, including of the judiciary has led to prolonged delays in the delivery of formal justice and contributed to a near total absence of the rule of law.

Authorities are deliberately exploiting these weaknesses by resorting to extrajudicial executions to gain public support in certain communities, it said.

"Some local communities concerned about criminality appear to support extrajudicial and unlawful executions because they have simply lost faith in the justice system. They mistakenly believe that such public executions will discourage others from offending and help restore law and order at the community-level", further stressed the Commission’s chairperson.

Andrew Clapham, a member of the Commission on Human Rights said, “The absolute prohibition of extrajudicial executions is an extension of the right to life, and it means that those accused of criminal activity must be guaranteed due process of law, including access to a fair trial".

"The spate of executions in Warrap implicates state security forces and very clearly constitutes a violation of the right to life, liberty, and security of person under international human rights law, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution,” he added.

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan was established by the Human Rights Council in March 2016 with a mandate to determine and report the facts and circumstances of, collect and preserve evidence of, and clarify responsibility for alleged gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence, with a view to ending impunity and providing accountability.

(ST)

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