South Sudan: Quashing of teenager’s death sentence must lead to abolition of the death penalty

Following the South Sudan Court of Appeal’s decision on 14 July to quash the death sentence imposed on Magai Matiop Ngong because he was a child at the time of the crime, and to send his case back to the High Court to rule on an appropriate sentence, and his removal from death row on 29 July, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena said:

We welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision to quash Magai Matiop Ngong’s death sentence because under South Sudan and international law a child cannot be sentenced to death. Magai is one of the lucky ones.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for East and Southern Africa

“We welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision to quash Magai Matiop Ngong’s death sentence because under South Sudan and international law a child cannot be sentenced to death. Magai is one of the lucky ones. At least two other people, who were children at the time of the crime, have been executed in the country since May 2018; their lives extinguished as well as all the hopes their families had for them.

"The South Sudanese government must fully comply with national and international laws which prohibit the use of the death penalty against anyone below 18 years of age at the time the crime was committed. The authorities must abolish this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment."

Background

In its annual letter writing campaign, Write for Rights, Amnesty International prioritized the case of Magai mobilizing its global membership to write to President Salva Kiir to commute the death sentence. More than 765,000 people around the world took action, calling on President Salva Kiir to commute Magai’s death sentence, and expressing their solidarity with Magai. 

South Sudan is one of four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that carried out executions in 2018 and 2019.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.