Juba (Agenzia Fides) - The Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) have launched a petition for the abolition of the death penalty in South Sudan. The petition was addressed to the Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan gathered in Juba, for their General Assembly (see Fides 20/09/2012). "During the last weeks South Sudan resumed hanging prisoners on death row: at least four men were executed in Juba and one in Wau," says the text of the petition, signed by Fr. Joe Vieira, Vice Superior Provincial for South Sudan, of which a copy was sent to Fides Agency.
According to Article 21 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan (independent state since July last year) death penalty may be imposed "only for extremely serious offences." It cannot be imposed on a person under 18 years of age or a person over 70, nor against women who are pregnant or breast-feeding their children, except after two years of breast-feeding."
Referring to the wish to see the death penalty abolished in Africa, contained in Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation "Africae Munus", the Comboni missionaries ask the Episcopal Conference of Sudan to invite the Head of State of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit to adopt a moratorium on executions and to submit a petition to the Commission for constitutional reform, so that the death penalty is permanently abolished by the Permanent Constitution of the Country. Finally, the Bishops are invited to involve the "Justice and Peace" Commission to partner with humanitarian and civil society organizations in this campaign for the abolition of death penalty. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 24/09/2012)