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42 killed in extrajudicial killings in South Sudan: UN

July 26, 2021 (JUBA) - The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has urged local and national authorities to put an end to extrajudicial executions following the killing of at least 42 people accused of criminal activity.

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The head of UN mission in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom (Getty)

Those killed, UNMISS said in a statement issued on Monday, were not given access to fair trial.

Since March, UNMISS’ Human Rights Division has documented at least 14 incidents of extrajudicial killings in Warrap, resulting in the execution of 29 males, including boys and elderly men.

The victims were allegedly removed from prison or police custody and brought before local officials for “sentencing”.

“This spate of extrajudicial executions is deeply disturbing,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Nicholas Haysom.

“People accused of crimes have the right to a fair trial as part of a formal judicial process. They should not be subjected to the random judgement of government or traditional leaders that they should be taken out and shot in front of their families and communities,” he added.

There were also reports that 13 people were arbitrarily executed since mid-June at the instruction of state officials in Cueibet and Rumbek East counties in Lakes State.

UNMISS has raised concern directly with the Governor of Warrap and local officials in Lakes state. The mission has also asked the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to investigate and prosecute those responsible for extrajudicial executions.

“There is a strong desire among communities for accountability and access to justice. But extrajudicial killings are not a solution to restoring law and order,” said Haysom.

“We must instead focus on building strong, well-developed local justice chains that resolve criminal cases in a fair and just manner,” he added.

Meanwhile, UNMISS said it has been helping build the capacity of rule of law institutions across the country, providing technical assistance and facilitating the deployment of mobile courts.