East African youngest country’s President pardons 71 prison inmates.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir pardons 71 inmates who were serving different sentences. In a decree read on the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, the national television, President Salva Kiir Mayardit pardoned 36 inmates on death sentence and 35 inmates who failed to pay compensations or fines.
He reportedly ordered prison authorities to execute the order accordingly.
Human rights advocate Godfrey Victor Bulla said that this happened after a long struggle and effort from human right activists, well wishers and the church.
Some people lack the knowledge of the law and their constitutional rights then end up being wrongly convicted for life or death row sentence.
“There are people who reconciled, but their names didn’t appear on this list and the judiciary is not able to release them even though they have filed a petition of reconciliation and some of the complainants came a long way from far away villages to Juba to solve the matter, but they failed to resolve them.” Victor said.
He added that more than 400 inmates are currently on death row in Juba and Wau prisons.
He called on the president to abolish the death penalty in the country.
The advocate said most of the death inmates were convicted without a defense lawyer and others had no witnesses in their trials.
“But they end up convicted because of a lack of knowledge on the laws and their rights, end up surrendering and this whole procedure has gone wrong and it is a violation of their constitutional rights.”
Victor goes on to explain that even though these inmates were released, there is a difficult process of integration.
“We are still planning with the church and the family elders to have reconciliation meetings with the complainants and try to forget the past and open a new page in everyone’s life.”
No reasons were given by the Head of State for the pardon, but this act of clemency comes after his meeting earlier on that day with Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland Rev Iain Greenshields, at the start of their Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace that takes place from 3 to 5 February.
Appeal for respect for human rights!
By Twahirwa Umumarashavu Janat