RESPONSE TO SOUTH SUDAN LAW STUDENTS’ PRESS RELEASE REQUEST FOR A BAR COURSE INSTITUTE IN SOUTH SUDAN THAT APEARED ON THE CITIZEN NEWS PAPER 24th JULY, 2013 VOL. 8, ISSUE 521
Juba, August 1, 2013 (SSNA) — Our Law students studying in Uganda issued a press release seeking government and South Sudan Law Society to intervene and provide them an alternative for the mandatory Bar Course provided at the Law Development Centre in Uganda. According to the press release, the basis for the students’ concerns is embedded in the legal system being Ugandan and secondly, that there are 19 books expensive to be bought by every student.
South Sudan Law Society is a Civil Society that stands for the promotion of human rights and government through Rule of Law. The society does not have the primary mandate of setting up government institutions such as the Law Development Centre in Uganda for South Sudan. We partner with the government of South Sudan by complementing and bridging the gaps where resources allow in the area of human rights, constitutionalism, rule of law and training.
It is in public domain that the South Sudan Legislative Assembly has enacted the Legal Training Institute Act which law puts the institution under the Ministry of Justice. South Sudan Law Society is also aware that the Ministry of Justice has secured land from the people of Kolye East through Chief Philip Jada Paul in Rajaf Payam on the Juba Nimule road where the institute will be located. International Development Law Organization and other donors are working together with the Directorate of Training and Research Ministry of Justice to put the institute into physical existence. More information can be obtained from the Ministry of Justice.
Uganda is a common Wealth country that has adopted the common law system. South Sudan has also adopted the common law system. Common law is common law irrespective of where you studied from. I don’t agree with the students that the legal system in Uganda is any much different with the one in South Sudan and not helpful if one studied there. The Law Development Centre has trained many of our judicial officers, prosecution attorney and advocates in practice and this has helped shape our legal system. While the government is working hard to establish institutions of higher learning, it has priorities depending on the political and economic situations prevailing in the country.
The South Sudan Law Society is also informed of the stringent regulations such as pre-LDC entry exams introduced by the Uganda Law Council in 2009 to weed out unserious students who graduated from the University through cheating and exam malpractices. The Centre also dismisses those who do not perform during the one year course period and we acknowledge that the chances are narrowing for many lawyers who might not make it to practice. It will not be different in South Sudan either once the Institute is established because we must set standards in our education system so that any qualification we obtain in the country is internationally recognised so as to further education in other jurisdictions without suspicion.
Studying at the Law Development Centre contrary to the students’ perspective comes with a lot of advantages. Firstly, the Centre is the only institution since 1968 passing out lawyers intending to join the bench, the bar and also those who want to be administrative officers, court clerks and bailiffs. The Law Development Centre has experienced trainers who are exposed to handling cases in the International Courts and Tribunals and this makes students understand the working of the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court, International Tribunals and International Arbitration.
Secondly, it is the only institution where the real practice of law is practically demonstrated through the moot courts and experience through the clerkship term depending on where a student is placed.
South Sudan has applied to join the East African Community and the process is on-going. This means that once its membership is accepted there will be much to be shared with the East Africa even in the area of education and this makes it even more important. Obtaining a Post graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from LDC entitles you to enroll as an advocate of the High court of Uganda and also allow you to enroll in South Sudan to practice and it gives you dual practice. It allows you to join professional bodies such as the East Africa Law Society, Uganda Law Society and the South Sudan Law Society which expose you to more opportunities and experience.
It will take time to have a fully functional South Sudan Legal Training Institute because of the challenges related to human resources especially lecturers who in most cases must be practising advocates and judicial officers who preside over the moot courts especially when it comes to proceedings in the High Court and in the appellate courts. The curriculum development, mode of delivery, library facilities and finances are some of the bottlenecks.
I agree with the students on the issue of the books being expensive but this is the price we pay for better education. For those who can afford, let them finish the bar course from there as it gives them a competitive advantage nationally and regionally. I recalled in 2006/2007 as a Bar Course Student at the Centre sitting in my classroom with a seven member Tanzanian Delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Justice to study the LDC system of training to help set up their Institute in Tanzania. I advise the Law Students to organise themselves and urge the government of South Sudan to continue supporting them pay fees at the Law Development Centre so that they come as a complete whole and seize the benefits mentioned above.
For more Information regarding this, you can contact the following people for details.