GoSS Should Empower its Judiciary

By Zechariah Manyok Biar

January 25, 2010 (SSNA) — The recent tribal clashes in Jonglei State in which at least twenty-four people were killed and a dozen others wounded shows that there is a need for the empowerment of judiciary in South Sudan. These clashes, as shown in the media report, have nothing to do with the invisible hand of the National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum.

Sudan Tribune reported that “The fighting broke out in the New Fangak area of Jonglei last Monday after a dispute between two Nuer everyone of them living in a different village populated by the two ethnic groups; the quarrel involved neighbors from both sides where nine people were killed.”

The same report also mentioned that “the fighting erupted again when armed members of the Dinka Rut attacked a settlement of the Nuer Thiang on Thursday killing 15 people and wounded other 16.” The report has not specified why the Dinka ethnic group got involved in what started as the clashes between Nuer groups, caused by the quarrel of two Nuer people. Maybe a Dinka person was accidentally killed by one side of Nuer during the fighting. I am just speculating.

But in either ways, the clashes reminded Southerners that there is no rule of law in South Sudan at the moment. People take law into their own hands to avenge themselves even in a mere quarrel between two people. There are other things that show the inability of judiciary in South Sudan. For example, nobody has been convicted of corrupt practices in the government even though ministers and undersecretaries have been fired because of corruption. This is very disappointing!

The powerlessness of judiciary in South Sudan is even discouraging some South Sudanese from pursuing degrees in Law simply because they are not willing to be part of the institution that does not seem to work. Late last year, for example, after I decided that I may continue with my studies after getting my second master’s degree this year, I considered doing a Juris Doctor (J.D). But I dropped the idea later on and applied for a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Policy instead of applying for doctorate in Law. If many people have the same feeling that I have about the lack of power in our legal system, then South Sudan may lack enthusiastic lawyers in the near future.

Southerners do not seem to know that human beings distinguish themselves from other animals only through speech and the rule of law. These days, the “Somalization” of the South has become part of our English vocabulary in an attempt to scare Southerners and force them to jump into the unexamined change of regime. But even those who try to scare people about the so-called “Somalization” of the South do not seem to know how to control this Somalization of the South.

Recently, I read with my mouth opened Dr. Lam Akol’s warning against the secession of South Sudan in 2010. My surprise about Dr. Akol’s warning was not because the problem he talked about does not exist, my surprise was that educated people like Dr. Akol believe that South Sudanese cannot rule themselves. So they need a savior somewhere else to save them from their “anarchy.”

Dr. Akol did not say directly that South Sudanese need a savior somewhere else to rule them. But this is what was reported as Dr. Akol’s statement: “At the moment, with the state of hostility in the South, with the state of tribal conflicts, intra-tribal conflicts, any call for secession at this moment will be a call for the ‘Somalisation’ of southern Sudan.” If this statement is Dr. Akol’s statement, then there is no reason why I should not say that Dr. Akol is looking for a savior somewhere else to save the South because Southerners cannot rule themselves.

These ideas from our educated politicians are really troubling to us citizens of South Sudan because they seem to show that our politicians trivialize solutions to our problems. I am becoming sick with politicians who seem to believe that we Southerners can just jump onto the wagon of those who believe that a mere change of regime is the magic we need for our problem-solutions. What we need are ideas for change, not a condition for change.

A concern for tribal crisis in South Sudan is a genuine concern, but a belief that staying under Khartoum government is the only solution to problems in the South does not make sense to me. If Northerners know how to maintain peace and order, then are Southerners incapable of the same? If the answer is yes, then why don’t politicians in the South give up running for offices and invite Northerners to come and rule the South now?

Whatever politicians, like Dr. Akol, would like us to believe is their opinion. The reality is that the solution to lawlessness in South Sudan does not lie in the hands of Northern magicians or in the hands of Southern political parties. The solution to lawlessness often lies in the power of judiciary. Regardless of which party is in power, if judiciary system is not strengthened in the South, then lawlessness will continue to be the order of the day.

Every politician needs to practically realize that the law is above everybody in any human institution, including the family. The practical part of the respect for the rule of law is that leaders from top to bottom need to submit to the rule of law and demand that every citizen does the same.

Every citizen who commits any criminal act must always be brought to justice in court so that all citizens can understand that the arms of the law are longer than the hands of those who take the law into their own hands. Apart from the empowerment of judiciary, chaos may not stop in the South even if we become servants of the Northern government.

Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He just graduated with a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and he is still pursuing a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. For comments, contact him at email: [email protected]

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