By Andrew Ross
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – Amnesty International on Friday strongly condemned the South Sudanese government for cramming dozens of prisoners in poorly ventilated shipping containers.
In a statement released in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Amnesty’s Regional Director for East Africa Muthoni Wanyeki warned that detainees were at risk of dying, especially because they had been kept underfed, with most being given meals only once or twice in a week along with small amounts of water.
Wanyeki was referring to the Gorom detention site, which is located some 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of the capital Juba.
“Detainees are suffering in appalling conditions and their overall treatment is nothing short of torture. This egregious disregard for human life and dignity must stop and for that to happen, the detention site should be immediately shut down until conditions are brought into compliance with human rights standards,” the statement said.
Amnesty also released satellite images of the detention camp, which is said to have been established in early 2015.
According to the human rights group, most people held at the site were civilians, who had been arrested for allegedly siding with the former rebel group, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Army.
Amnesty said detainees had no access to family members or lawyers.
“President [Salvar] Kiir should order an independent investigation into this site and into military intelligence detention practices generally, with a view to reforming the practices and ensuring that those responsible for torture, death or enforced disappearances are held accountable,” Wanyeki said.
The group also called on the South Sudanese president to suspend military officials alleged to have committed the crimes at the Gorom detention site.
In February, Amnesty International had released another report detailing how South Sudanese armed forces allegedly suffocated 60 people in shipping containers in the country’s Unity State in October 2015.