JUBA, 28 July 2021 – The UN Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) has expressed deep concern over a spike of extrajudicial executions in Africa’s youngest nation.
People accused of crimes must have a right to have their day in court before any punishment can be meted out against them, Nicholas Haysom, the UN Chief in South Sudan told reporters.
The executions of 42 people accused of committing crimes but not tried in a court of law have been recorded in only two of the country’s states over the last two months, according to Haysom.
“Extra-judicial killings are not a solution to restoring law and order, we must instead focus on building strong, well-developed local justice chains that resolve criminal cases in a fair and just manner,” the UN representative in South Sudan told reporters.
These executions are “deeply disturbing”, UNMISS said in a statement, urging South Sudanese authorities to ensure that anyone accused of crimes are granted a fair trial within the formal judicial process, not through mob justice.
Some of the victims, according to eyewitnesses, were taken out of jails, where they were detained before being executed.
Others were taken out of police custody and made to face kangaroo trials in their communities or where they had allegedly committed the crimes for which they were accused.
The mock trials were followed by public executions, eyewitnesses and rights activists have told reporters.
Haysom told reporters that some of the victims of the summarily executions were taken to isolated or remote areas of the country, where they were tied to trees or to posts and then executed by firing squad.
The mortal remains of some of the victims were left to rot at the scene of their executions reportedly in order to punish their communities for not turning them over earlier.
The UN has called on South Sudanese authorities to investigate the summarily executions and to hold those responsible for them to account.
The government of South Sudan has not commented on the allegations by UNMISS.