South Sudan’s human rights group welcomes president Kiir’s letter to suspected South Sudanese corrupt officials, but disregards amnesty as clog to justice

Press Release: For Immediate Release; June 5, 2012

SSHURSA welcomes South Sudan president Kiir’s letter to suspected South Sudanese corrupt officials, but disregards amnesty as clog to justice, calls upon the president to demonstrate more political will against corruption and fully support Anti-Corruption Commission’s efforts to recover the $ 4 billion of public money and to bring suspects to accountability . SSHURSA also urges public to strengthen ties with the Commission in the fight against corruption and strongly calls upon the institution to courageously go on spearheading in erradicating the vice.

Juba, June 5, 2012 (SSNA) — The South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) greatly welcomes the letter to the South Sudanese suspected corrupt officials by President General Salva Kiir Mayardit. This is a welcome move that shows a political will by the presidency in the fight against corruption which had been consuming the meagre resources of the people of South Sudan since 2005 when the region became autonomous. SSHURSA indeed hails President Kiir’s direct, practical and long awaited move towards the erradication of the vice. This action against the corruption suspects by President Kiir is very much in line with the provision of Article 101(a) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 that states;

“The president shall supervise Constitutional and executive institutions and provide exemplary leadership in public affairs”.

By having done so, coming out quite frankly as such, His Excellency General Kiir has done what the letter and spirit of the Constitution so requires of him and it is in the interest of transparency that his efforts are worth appreciating.

Much as SSHURSA welcomes the President Kiir’s public efforts and declaration to stamp off the evil in South Sudan however, his call on officials to bring back money in return for amnesty is unknown to usual way and procedure of achieving justice for accountability over any crime.

“I don’t think if any such an example has ever existed or can be found anywhere in the world that a nation’s wealth when stolen, then the head of the state offers amnesty in return for the stolen money by the corruption suspects. If nothing of the kind exists, then our president should not set an unknown precedent that will make our resolve towards the fight for transparent and democratic governance a laughing matter from the rest of humanity”, Said Biel Boutros Biel, the Executive Director of SSHURSA. “A crime is a crime, it must be prosecuted for there is no any connection on moral considerations which the president’s letter seems to suggest to the fundamental legal questions this crime raises and its effects on the deprived citizens of South Sudan” Biel added.

SSHURSA views as a clog to justice the call by the president on the officials to return stolen billions of nation’s funds so as to be granted amnesty in return. This is not the best way to go because the issue in question is not a personal political negotiation or compromise between the President and with the suspects of corruption; neither does this call fall under the prerogative of mercy for which the president constitutionally can grant pardon. The matter is distinctively very clear and it is the money of the people of South Sudan stolen by a few self-enricing individuals. Let the individual suspects of corruption be investigated and prosecuted or unless the president’s letter and Anti-Corruption Commission have no evidence against the alleged corrupt figures but if they do have overwhelming evidence as all the efforts of the Commission to have recovered some stolen funds already and president’s letter seem to suggest, then the accused must be held to account for there is no short cut to justice as stipulated under principles of rule of law which transparency and accountability values to end impunity are cardinally notable. If for political purposes, the president would like to forgive and offer amnesty to the suspects, let the return public funds first and be prosecuted and he can thereafter offer amnesty to them while serving their sentences. Public interest must be paramount and takes a priority over any consideration.

According to the fundamental objectives and guiding principles of governance and harmonious living as enshrined under the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011, particularly Article 35(2), it is very clear that all public resources shall bemeant for improving the lives of the people of South Sudan by among others; providing clean water, food, security, electric power and telecommunications services and building roads, schools, airports, community institutions to every part of the country. If the money meant to provide these services is pocketed by individuals as happened, how many people in the rural areas have been dying of the lack of basic needs such as food and medicines? And only to beg the suspects to return the money and go unpunished? . Such argument has no legal basis.

Article 36(5) of the Constitution1 under the South Sudan’s political objective clearly states;

“All public offices shall be held in trust for the people and all persons in the positions of leadership and responsibility shall be answerable to the people in their work and duties”.

How can the president offer amnesty to the people who haven’t consciously been able to observe the trust given to them by the people of South Sudan? The public money as enshrined in the Country’s Constitution under economic objective is meant to achieving a decent standard of life for the people of South Sudan. Therefore, if individuals have chosen to deprive others of these fundamental rights then the only thing to rescue the people is the fundamental law for which the suspects must be prosecuted.

Therefore, SSHURSA recommends the following:

1 Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011

1. President Kiir’s office should assert great political will and involve police and Anti-Corruption office to investigate the suspected corrupt officials to whom the president has written.

2. Anti-Corruption Commission without fear or favor should implement courageously and independently the Constitutional provision that calls upon it to; under Article 144(1)(a) protect public property

(b) investigate and prosecute cases of corruption

(c) combat administrative malpractices in public institutions.

3. All corruption charges must be clearly placed against the suspects and if proved guilty, be pressured to return stolen money and face justice accordingly.

4. SSHURSA calls on the South Sudan’s national partliament and Council of states as well as Ministry of Justice to stem up more measures to assist Anti-Corruption Commission in leading the fight against corruption countrywide.

5. SSHURSA calls upon all members of the public to help Anti-Corruption Commission and the office of the president to provide any necessary information leading to the successful prosecution and conviction of any of the corruption suspect.

6. Any suspected official named or revealed and while holding a public office must resign and must remain so until cleared out of charges under the law.

President Kiir should know that the Southb Sudanese public supports him in the fight against corrruption and should therefore, never offer amnesty in the expense of public interest. The money must be brought back through the law and suspects found guilty must face the same law. This is the only way to protect the interest of the people of South Sudan and not otherwise.

For contact: [email protected]: Tel. +211955300382, Juba, South Sudan

South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) is a non political and non profit making Human Rights organization founded in June 2007 by South Sudanese Lawyers and Law Students at Makerere Law Development Centre (LDC), Kamapala-Uganda. In 2009, it became operational in South Sudan with its head office in Juba and co-ordination offices in the states. It membership composes of individuals and organizations who believe in its human rights protection mandate. Its vision is to advocate for a democratic and human rights abiding South Sudan and with a mission to monitor, document and publish human rights status in South Sudan and train general public on the importance of human rights, fundamental freedoms of an individual, Rule of Law and democracy geared towards creating a responsible, justice and good governance oriented South Sudan.

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