The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Monday called on South Sudanese authorities to end extrajudicial executions following the killing of at least 42 people accused of criminal activity who were not given access to a fair trial.
Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General said the world body has raised concern with relevant authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the extrajudicial executions.
“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 judgment of government or traditional leaders that they should be taken out and shot in front of their families and communities,” Haysom said in a statement issued in Juba.
UNMISS’ Human Rights Division has since March documented at least 14 incidents of extrajudicial killings in Warrap, resulting in the execution of 29 males, including boys and elderly men.
According to the UN, the victims were allegedly removed from prison or police custody and brought before local officials for “sentencing”.
According to the UN mission, eyewitnesses reported that some men were taken to remote areas, tied to trees, and executed by firing squad.
In some instances, their bodies were reportedly left on the trees as an example to the community.
It has also been reported that 13 people have been arbitrarily executed since mid-June at the instruction of state officials in Cueibet and Rumbek East counties in Lakes State.
Haysom said there is a strong desire among communities for accountability and access to justice, noting however that extrajudicial 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,” he added.
The UN mission 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.
Some of these courts, it said, use a hybrid model with traditional leaders acting as assessors to advise statutory judges on local customs, particularly relating to compensation. Enditem