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Amnesty says executions rising in S.Sudan, govt denies it
December 07, 2018
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KAMPALA: Amnesty International (AI) accused South Sudan of stepping up use of the death penalty with seven executions this year including one who was a child when convicted of murder, and said another 342 people were on death row.

"The world’s youngest nation has embraced this outdated, inhuman practice and is executing people, even children, at a time when the rest of the world is abandoning this abhorrent punishment," Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty's regional director, said in a statement by the London-based rights group on Friday.

"The president of South Sudan must stop signing execution orders and end this obvious violation of the right to life."

Presidency spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny rejected Amnesty's statement, saying no one had been executed in South Sudan since 2011 and a moratorium had been placed on the practice since 2013. He also said the death penalty remained on the statute books, adding, "If you kill a person, you will be executed."

In 2017, 53 countries issued death sentences and 23 of them executed at least 993 people, Amnesty reported earlier this year, with the most executions in China, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan.

UN says 'all sides' still recruiting fighters in S. Sudan

All sides in South Sudan's conflict continue to recruit fighters despite a peace deal signed earlier this year, UN rights investigators said on Friday.

"There is a worrying trend, that there is some recruitment going on," said Barney Afako, a member of the UN's Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

There has been a let-up in the fighting since a September peace deal, but commission chairperson Yasmin Sooka said the new recruitment "is on all sides" of South Sudan's conflict.

Fighting began five years ago when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup.

Since then nearly 400,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes or to the brink of starvation.

As part of the September pact the warring parties are supposed to stop recruitment — whether voluntary or forced — as a permanent ceasefire takes hold.

Afako said the motivation for recruiting new fighters was unclear. He said the move might be "tactical" so that armed groups can argue for a greater share of government demobilisation programmes, or it might be "preparation to return to conflict."

Machar is expected to return to the capital Juba in May, almost three years after he fled in a hail of bullets when a previous peace deal fell apart.

The three members of the UN rights commission were speaking at the end of a four-day visit to the country.


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