By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
September 20, 2012 (KAMPALA) -The Catholic Comboni missionaires of South Sudan have submitted a petition asking the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) to campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in South Sudan.
The two prisoners who were hung in Juba on 28 August “did not have proper legal assistance," according to Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He urged for the introduction of a moratorium aiming to abolish the death penality.
The Comobi plea refers to Pope Benedict’s quote in Africae Munus that “together with the Synod members, I draw the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty”.
South Sudan is still using a transitional constitution. Its article 21 states the following:
- No death penalty shall be imposed, save as punishment for extremely serious offences in accordance with the law.
- No death penalty shall be imposed on a person under the age of eighteen or a person who has attained the age of seventy.
- No death penalty shall be executed upon a pregnant or lactating woman, save after two years of lactation.
The South Sudan Province of the Comboni Missionaries in proposes that the SCBC Plenary write a letter to South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir to call for a moratorium on executions in South Sudan, petition to the Constitutional Review Commission asking for the abolition of death penalty in South Sudan’s Permanent Constitution and calls in the diocesan Justice & Peace Commissions to partner with humanitarian and civil society groups locally in this campaign for the abolition of death penalty in South Sudan.
Biel Boutros Biel, executive director for South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy SSHURSA welcomed the call for the abolition of the death penalty.
“Killing people in the name of punishment is the most outrageous and inhumane act towards the right to life,” Biel told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
He explained that the South Sudanese justice system is chaotic with cases of unjust trials involving unrepresented people.