Only speedy reforms can end plight of prisoners
Inmates at a prison in Bentiu, Unity State. In November 2011, 93% of the prison population were male, 30% were in custody.
South Sudan: Unlawful Detention and Dire Conditions
"What do prisoners in South Sudan reveals serious problems in the nascent justice system. South Sudan is a new country. He desperately needs a functioning legal system that protects human rights and the dignity of the individual. This is the basis for the rule of law and accountability. "
Daniel Bekele, director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch
(Juba) - Unfair trials, unlawful imprisonment and catastrophic conditions in South Sudan prisons show that the young state urgently needs to reform its justice system, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 105-page report, "Prison Is Not for Me: Unlawful Detention in South Sudan" documents the violation of procedural rights, systematic and unlawful detention and harsh prison conditions unacceptable. It is based on studies in a ten-month period before and after the independence of South Sudan on 9 July 2011.
"What do prisoners in South Sudan reveals serious problems in the nascent judicial system," said Daniel Bekele, director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "South Sudan is a new country. He desperately needs a functioning legal system that protects human rights and the dignity of the individual. This is the basis for the rule of law and accountability. "
Were examined 12 of the 79 prisons that are located in regions with the largest numbers of prisoners. The report is based on the statements of more than 250 inmates and many judicial officers, prison guards, police officers, Staatsanwählten and traditional authorities.
Countless human rights problems exist at all levels of the judicial system.
A third of the 6,000 people detained in South Sudan has not been convicted. Them is not even a crime imputed to part. Nevertheless, they are a long time in jail and wait for police, prosecutors and judges work their cases.
The vast majority of inmates has no legal representation because they can afford a lawyer and a functioning legal aid system exists. Judge people sentenced to long prison terms or even death, although they could not understand the charges without support. You could call any witnesses to defend themselves.
Frustrated the criminal justice system and confused most of the prisoners. A male inmate who is accused of murder, says: "I'm here now for five years [...] and I have never seen a judge. The court has not been called yet the case. The Attorney General has no idea of the laws. The police do not either. "
In the plural legal system of South Sudan official also exist with traditional dishes. Whether this method can guarantee the rule of law, is doubtful. Their chairmen are not legally trained and have numerous people for acts sentenced to prison terms, which are not crimes in the southern Sudanese criminal law. Although traditional dishes are partially accessible and efficient than government, but their jurisdictions do and sentencing powers are not clearly defined.
Many detainees are accused of marital or sexual offenses such as adultery or secret marriage. That these facts exist in the written law and customary law, violate the internationally protected rights to privacy and be sure to select the spouses themselves. Other people are indefinitely detained because they often cattle, can not pay bills, fines or judicially determined compensation, in the form of a specified number. Most do not know when they are released.
In addition, some people who are currently in detention, placed no crime to load. Others were arrested in place of relatives or friends. About 90 inmates are in prison only because, apparently because they have mental disabilities. The people of South Sudan have experienced decades of war trauma, but the country has no mental health facilities. Persons with mental impairments are quickly sent to prisons because they never receive the necessary treatment.
"Many South Sudanese prisoners have fallen victim to illegal arrests and procedures. They are being held without any legal basis. Some are convicted for acts that should not be criminalized purely and simply because that engages their fundamental rights and freedoms, "said Bekele. "These arrests are unlawful under international law - that is illegal - and often also violate the Constitution and laws of South Sudan itself"
Appalling prison conditions worsen the situation of those who are unjustly imprisoned. The infrastructure is rudimentary in the prisons, in some cases totally destroyed or in disarray. The cells are unhygienic, heavily overcrowded and inadequate ventilation.
The prisoners do not get enough to eat, enough water in some prisons. They fall ill easily, but then rarely adequately treated if they can not pay for the drugs themselves. Ten inmates of the prison in Aweil and Bentiu in at least five of the prison alone died last year from treatable diseases.
Also report inmates that prison guards often beat them with sticks or whips to punish them for infractions. Some are permanently shackled with heavy chains. This violates national and international standards for the use of force prohibited and constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments
In all, Human Rights Watch visited prisons children are detained together with adults. Neither you nor adequate rehabilitation programs, educational opportunities are offered, although the South Sudan Child Act provides for both.
International donors have focused on building prisons. You must also work to improve prison conditions and ensure that the facilities comply with minimum standards. Furthermore, their support is needed to procure food rations and medicines in sufficient quantity. This need is all the greater since the government in February halted oil production and export, and the budgets of all government institutions has reduced.
The Department of Justice and the Interior Ministry and the Judiciary should immediately review the files of all prisoners - and are supported by international organizations and donors. You must identify illegally detained persons and all dismissed, their continued detention is not justified. Individual assessments, and better cooperation within the justice sector can help to prevent unlawful detention. This would also reduce the number of prisoners and requires no substantial issues.
In addition, the South Sudan should ensure that police, prosecutors and judges continue to make enough on procedural safeguards and fair trial standards. The existing training programs are too superficial and does not address some of the problems mentioned in. The government is a functioning legal aid system must also establish. Here, too, the support of donors is required.
Only far-reaching judicial and legal reforms to the detention time limit before the actual procedure, define the skills of traditional criminal courts and abolish prison sentences for adultery and default in payment of debt. Also, the detention of people who show signs of mental retardation must be terminated immediately. It is imperative that people with mental illness have access to treatment.
"People who commit crimes should be convicted," says Bekele. "But detention is one of the toughest sanctions that may be imposed on a person a government. They should be applied only after a rule of law, due process, corresponding to the southern Sudanese law and international human rights obligations. "