According to Amnesty International, children are executed in South Sudan for "extremely worrying" the state's "death penalty".
This year, seven people, including one child, were hanged. This is the highest number since the county became independent in 2011. This is evidenced by evidence that Amnesty has received from legal practitioners and government officials.
In 2017, two of the four executed persons were children at the time of their conviction, the organization said.
Among the 342 people currently on death row – more than twice as many as in 2011 – is a secondary school student sentenced to death at the age of 15 and a breastfeeding mother. The country's lack of transparency in applying the death penalty meant that the numbers would probably be underestimated, Amnesty said.
The increase in executions is happening at a time when the world is moving away from death sentences.
Joan Nyanyuki, director of East Africa at Amnesty International, said: "It is extremely disturbing that the world's youngest nation has adopted this outdated, inhumane practice and is executing people, even children, at one time, to the rest of the world abominable punishment gives up.
"The President of South Sudan must give up the signing of clues and end this apparent violation of the right to life."
More than 100 out of 195 countries have abolished the death penalty. South Sudan and Somalia were the only countries in the region to carry out executions in 2017.
The application of the death sentence or sentence of death to a person under the age of 18 at the time of committing an offense violates the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan of 2011 in addition to international human rights law and standards. The execution of a mother caring for a young child is in breach also against South Sudan law and against international laws and norms.
Philip Deng * was found guilty of murder at the age of fifteen, following a trial in which he had no legal representation. Deng claims the crime was an accident.
Deng, who turns 17 in December, said, "Before the accident, I was in secondary school. I was a runner, a very good one, and I was also a singer of gospel and earthly songs … My own goal was to study and do things that could help others. I hope I'm outside and can continue with my school, "he said.
Deng, who said he was 15 years old, was sentenced to death on 14 November 2017 by hanging. Finally, he was given access to a lawyer who appealed against the court's decision. He was transferred from Torit State Prison to Juba Central Prison in September, awaiting his appointment.
Since independence, 140 people have been sentenced to death and at least 32 executed. The country, which allows for the death penalty for crimes such as murder, terrorism, drug trafficking and betrayal, has been enforced since independence, regardless of 2014, with the exception of 2014, when Amnesty was not sentenced to death.
This year's executions appeared to have been prompted by a statement by the Director-General of the South Sudanese Prison Service on April 26, in which all prison inmates imprisoned in county and state prisons were transferred to two of the country's most notorious prisons – Wau Central Prison and Juba -Zentralgefängnis.
South Sudan, which has been involved in a civil war between President Salva Kiir and rebel groups since 2013, signed a peace agreement in October.
Two prominent figures, James Gatdek Dak and William Endley, who had been sentenced to death for their conflicting party, were pardoned by Kiir and released on 2 November. Dak, a former spokesman for the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement / Army in the opposition, was sentenced to death on February 12 for treason. Endley, a former advisor to Riek Machar, Chairman and Supreme Commander of the SPLM / A-IO, was sentenced to death on February 23 for conspiring to overthrow the government under the National Security Act.
Before a person sentenced to death can be executed, the Supreme Court and the President must confirm the death sentence.
In total, 23 countries executed 993 executions in 2017, killing nearly 22,000 people. Worldwide, there has been a small decline in the number of executions.
In 2017, death sentences in sub-Saharan Africa were significantly reduced.