Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 19 February 2018

James Dak’s case:: Why death sentence should be canceled

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By Peter Gai Manyuon

On Monday 12th of February 2018, a South Sudan court in Juba sentenced James Gatdet Dak to death by hanging, citing several provisions in the constitution as the basis upon which the verdict was reached by Judges. The verdict sentenced (Gatdet) for allegedly inciting violence which falls under treason charges according to article 64, disseminating false information to the detriment of South Sudanese national security under article (75) and insulting the president under article 76 under the penal code of 2008 respectively.

On the other hand, the lead-defence lawyer Monyluak Alor Kuol described the verdict as a political decision from the government of South Sudan with no legal basis or citations.

Evidently, audiences all over the world reacted positively and only a few welcomed the decay sentenced on various social media platforms. It’s should be noted that sentencing or death penalty was not cross-checked or properly cross-examined by competent judges in South Sudan, instead incompetent Judges all over the Country continue determining cases that are not well scrutinized. What can South Sudanese do in regards to these judges? For how long Should South Sudanese continues trust these Judges in the Country? Are they really well-trained judges or politicians working in the judiciary in South Sudan pretending to be judges?

The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011, under the bill of rights, provides that “every person has the inherent right to life, dignity and integrity of his or her person which shall be protected by the law; no one should be arbitrarily deprived of his or her right” respectively. The question is, whether the judges have read the Bill of Rights of the Transitional constitution 2011 which they are claiming to have read?

In the same Bill of rights clearly and precisely mentioned, all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law without discrimination as to race, ethnic origin, colour, sex, language, religious creed, political opinion, birth, locality or social status. Furthermore, under the same bill of rights restricted or prohibited death penalty to anyone without proper scrutiny. The same Bill of rights precisely said, no death penalty shall be imposed on anyone. The Judges in Juba imposed a death penalty on James Gatdet Dak on a tribal basis, not through good legal procedures.

In fact, judges are making judgments based on assumptions and interests attached to their legal processes in various courts in the Country. No fairness and respect to the Constitution of South Sudan 2011 especially the Bill of rights. The government in Juba abandoned constitution of the Country and judges only worked on directives of the government. There is no independent judicial system in the Country. It’s rule of man which is final in all the Institutions in the Country.

It’s therefore very unfortunate for a country to allows, national security and politicians in deciding or determining court cases, killings or terrorizing all people in the Country. The matter if not handle with care can disintegrate into small entities, where each community shall be ready for self-rule or self-determination.

In summary, the only people qualified enough for death sentences and treason charges are all former Ministers, current Ministers, Army Generals and Kiir himself who have looted, killed thousands and displaced civilians to different parts of the World. Who is more criminal between, someone doing his work as Spokesperson for his party and someone who killed millions of people and looted the Country resources for almost two decades? It’s only happening in South Sudan where top criminals are sentencing innocent Journalist for belonging to a certain ethnicity. This is a seriously contentious issue that must be denounced as malicious in nature.

In conclusion, Kiir Mayardit, National security and despotic politicians in South Sudan should evaluate the judgment again otherwise, the issue of James Gatdet could incite more crisis in the country since others will look at it in different lenses. Even though South Sudanese are looking for peace to come back to the country anytime from now, the government and its allies must desist from doing unnecessary court cases that are inciting more conflicts in the country.


Peter Gai Manyuon is an Author, Independent Journalist and Columnist who has written extensively on Human Rights and Democracy in South Sudan. Reachable on independentjournalistpgm@gmail.com.



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