Former human rights officer concerned about South Sudan detainees

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict logo (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

October 9th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – A former human rights advocacy officer who said he was in South Sudan seven years ago said he is concerned about the situation of South Sudan prisoners in a country marred in a tribal bloody conflict.

Lindsey Hutchison, Human Rights Advocacy Officer-Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, said she is is deeply concerned over harsh conditions faced by South Sudan inmates in different detention centres and prisons across the country in a social media post on his twitter account.. 

Hutchison decried what she called ‘horrific’ human rights abuses committed against prisoners by the South Sudan authorities saying after they conducted interviews with several prisoners in different parts of the country, they had found out that some of those inmates were even arrested by South Sudan security forces for alleged crimes of relatives.

“I was inside the prisons of South Sudan for human rights investigations 7 years ago. I spoke to prisoners held for years with no trial and some not even charged with a crime. Some were even jailed for alleged crimes of relatives, the situation is likely worse now,” Hutchinson said.

According to a Human Rights Watch document obatined by the Nyamilepedia carried out in 12 months across South Sudan’s 79 prisons with good numbe rof inmates, 250 inmates were interviewed as well as other justice officials, police, prosecutors and traditional leaders. 

“The research was carried out in 12 of the country’s 79 prisons, in areas with the largest prison populations. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 250 inmates and a range of justice officials, correctional officers, police, prosecutors, and traditional authorities,” said the Human Rights Watch document. 

A third of South Sudan’s prison population of approximately 6,000 has not been convicted of any offense or in some cases even charged with one, but are detained, often for long periods, waiting for police, prosecutors, and judges to process their cases according to the document. 

The document added that a “vast majority of detainees have no legal representation, because they cannot afford a lawyer and South Sudan has no functioning legal aid system. Judges pass long sentences and even condemn to death people who, without legal assistance, were unable to understand the nature of charges against them or to call and prepare witnesses in their defense.”