An activist in Gbudue says the state is facing a judicial crisis amidst the absence of judges.
Since the creation of Gbudue state in 2016, the national government had been sending high court judges to the Western Equatoria region through the mobile court system until recently.
As a result, there is reported backlog of court cases there, with some suspects spending nearly 4 months in police custody.
Justin Ngbapai, Gbudue state coordinator for Community Empowerment for Progress Organization described the situation as a violation of people rights to justice and abuse of the rule of law.
He said people have resorted to using the police as the enforcer of laws, and judge.
“They [are] using their way of getting justice because of the absence of [these] 2 institutions that is the High Court and County court, and that increases the number of crimes,” said Ngbapai.
He appealed to the Chief Justice to deploy more judges to the state to address the issue of backlog and the abrogation of the judicial procedures.
The State Minister of Information, Hussein Enoka also confirmed that the absence of judges in the area is denying those detained unlawfully to seek redress.
“There is a very good number of inmates now at the prison and their cases have not been looked at, we cannot continue living like this one,” he said.
The judiciary has recently experienced several strikes over the general working condition and payrise for the justices and judges.
The justices and judges previously called for the removal of the Chief Justice, Chan Madut, who they said had failed to address their demands – a demand thwarted by the President.
Several states reported prolonged detentions, absence of hearings and the abuse of basic rights due to the lack of working judges.
According to the UN, South Sudan’s legal system has been seriously neglected due to decades of conflict: lack of court infrastructure and justice services in remote areas; increased unaddressed cases and lengthy periods of detention of suspects.
As a result, the UNDP provided technical support to the Judiciary and Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to design a mobile court system and tools to enable court monitoring. Judges and prosecutors are facilitated to travel to remote areas where there are no courts or backlog of cases to hold court sessions.
“I am [calling] upon the national authority for the judiciary sector to speed up to send us this group to the state so that our organ can be complete,” Enoka concluded.
The areas covered by the Mobile Courts so far include; Yambio, Kapoeta, Terekeka, Pibor, Yirol, Cuei-bet, Kwajok, Bentiu and Ruweng.
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