15 February 2018

South Sudan: Opposition Member Sentenced to Death

Khartoum — HUMAN rights groups are enraged at the sentencing to death of the spokesperson of Riek Machar, the expelled South Sudan Vice President.

Machar's publicist, James Gatdet Dak, who is ex-spokesman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - In Opposition (SPLM-IO), has been convicted for treason.

He has been sentenced for "abetment, treason, publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to South Sudan, and undermining the authority of or insulting the President.

Gatdet was transferred from Kenya to South Sudan in November 2016 and spent over seven months in solitary confinement before finally being charged.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, said Gatdet's sentence was unacceptable and must be quashed immediately.

"The death penalty is an abhorrent punishment and should never be used in any circumstances," she said.

Jackson bemoaned that Gatdet received a death sentence at a time when he had no legal representation for more than a month.

"In any case, the death penalty has no place in the modern era," she said.

Human rights groups have called on the South Sudanese government to abolish capital punishment as have 105 other countries.

The East African country, which is the world's youngest is gripped by a civil war after President Salva Kiir Mayardit fired Machar for allegedly plotting a coup.

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