Dozens Imprisoned by South Sudan at Risk of Death, Amnesty Says

South Sudanese authorities are imprisoning dozens of people in badly ventilated shipping containers who are deprived of adequate food and water and subject to beatings by soldiers, Amnesty International said.

Most of the detainees at the site, about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south of the capital, Juba, are civilians accused of having links to the former rebel group led by Vice President Riek Machar that fought in the country’s two-year civil war and is now part of the government, the London-based rights organization said in a statement.

Soldiers periodically take those detained out of the containers and beat them, in conditions that “have apparently resulted in the deaths of multiple detainees,” according to Amnesty. Those held have no access to family members, lawyers or courts, and are being fed as little as once a week, it said.

Amnesty said it has written to Major-General Marial Nour, director of military intelligence, to ask for information about the site, including the names of those who’ve been held and died. The group said it’s also written to President Salva Kiir, urging him to intervene and end the rights violations taking place there.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said South Sudan has no such detention centers and Kiir hasn’t received any reports on the subject.

“These are just reports being issued to continue to put the country in a polarized situation,” Ateny said by phone from Juba.

The group monitoring South Sudan’s cease-fire said in February that government forces were responsible for the deaths of 50 civilians who suffocated in a container the previous year. Authorities denied that report. Tens of thousands of people have died as a result of the conflict that began in December 2013.

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