Health workers offload the bodies of the deceased from a military pickup at Kwajok Hospital. (File photo)

‘SSPDF should be held accountable for death of 7 detainees in Kuajok’-Activists

An activist on Wednesday said the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) should be held accountable for the death of seven suspects who were locked up in a shipping container and later died as a result of suffocation in the Warrap State capital Kuajok on Sunday night.

 

An activist on Wednesday said the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) should be held accountable for the death of seven suspects who were locked up in a shipping container and later died as a result of suffocation in the Warrap State capital Kuajok on Sunday night.

The authorities in Warrap State on Tuesday confirmed that seven people who were detained by the SSPDF and locked in a shipping container died of suffocation.

Ter Manyang Gatwech, the Executive Director of the Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA), told Radio Tamazuj that the SSPDF violated the constitution by illegally detaining the suspects and should account for the deaths.

“First of all the army has violated the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan. If people are arrested, they are supposed to be handed over to the police in the state who are supposed to hold suspects for 24 hours as indicated in the Laws of South Sudan. However, if these people died in prison due to prolonged detention there is a need to hold those people accountable for their illegal actions,” he charged. “This is not good for a state like South Sudan because the country has laws. So, those people are supposed to follow the procedures and this case is unfortunate.”

Manyang added: “The case is going to tarnish the image of the country if the army cannot follow the procedures in terms of our laws.”

For his part, Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), strongly condemned the death of the seven men who suffocated to death after being locked up in a container by SSPDF soldiers in Kuajok.

“This is a real human rights violation that requires immediate government investigation,” he said. “The Military Justice Department should take immediate action against the military leaders and soldiers responsible for the action that led to the deaths of the seven people in Warrap state.”

“CEPO will be effectively advocating for justice and accountability to prevail on this act of the human rights violation that led to seven people dying due to suffocation,” Yakani added.

Meanwhile, Advocate Wani Stephen echoed that the detention of the suspects by the SSPDF was illegal and not in line with the law.

“Our laws in South Sudan provide for legal mechanisms in terms of military justice,” he explained. “When we look at our criminal justice system, it is the police that is in charge and if there is any case, it is the police that is supposed to file it and conduct the investigation and so forth.”

Wani added: “There are legal mechanisms for arresting criminals and the law is unambiguous on who is supposed to arrest people, especially people who do not belong to the armed forces.”

SSPDF Spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang told this publication that state authorities were already handling the matter.