The Inordinate Sacking of 13 Judges in South Sudan is a setback to the Judiciary

Posted: July 15, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Mabil Manyok Nhial, Gweru, Zimbabwe

Political cartoon by Ajith Isaiah Majok

Political cartoon by Ajith Isaiah Majok

July 15, 2017 (SSB) — The recent sacking of judges by the President reminds me of an odious statement made by Oliver W. Holmes, Jr. when he reproachfully chided a defence lawyer that “this is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice.” It without doubt dawns on me that the government of South Sudan has now become a beehive of intemperate decrees that cannot in any way be of a tangible benefit to the country. Bad laws and improper decrees are the worst sort of tyranny that any country has ever had.

It is crystal clear that whatever demanded by judges are as valid as recently addressed in India, where judges were demanding almost the same exigencies. They demanded increments in salaries, better working conditions as well as resignation of Chief Justice, who has successfully failed to oversee and ensure judicial reforms in the country. The Chief Justice is poisoned by the interests of the government leaving justice at stake.

A reasonable government cannot allow its judges to go famished, how bankrupt it might be. Judges in every country are provided by the government with free accommodation with electrification, good means of transport and other facilities that are necessary in facilitating living conditions of judges in particular and the judiciary as a whole. The failure by the government to address the demands by judges contravenes Article 124 (9) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, which reads that “The salaries, allowances, privileges, post-services benefits, tenure and other conditions…shall be regulated by law.”

In South Sudan, the economy is swimming in a pool of economic crisis. However, the government should always ensure service delivery in the judiciary by providing the basics needed in courtrooms and necessities needed by judges. Judges have been receiving SP4,000 since independence of South Sudan. This amount is equivalent to $25. How can this meagre amount of money be of any good to a judge, who spends all his time reading voluminous books developing jurisprudence in such a country that has never had any developed precedents?

There is nowhere in the world where a judge is paid such amount of money. A reasonable pay is globally commended for a judge so as to curtail rampant and indeed withering corruption rummaging the ambiences of South Sudan and the world at large.

One cannot be in a shadow of doubt to explicitly elucidate that this proclivity of paying judges with such a skimpy amount of money as salaries, is not only against the global principle of paying respect to judges, but it also leaves a door ajar for corruption to wither the judicial system. This was bolstered by one of the judges when asked by Radio Tamazuj in May. “I am not accusing my colleagues, but I think there is something like this happening, corruption, that is why we are trying to correct this situation as quickly as possible,” said justice Khalid Mohammed Abdallah.

The government is so expectant of excellent judicial delivery when indeed its mistreatment against judges is a known disease. How then can the government treat signs and symptoms leaving the disease untreated? “These judges who are supposed to deliver justice obstructed justice themselves. They denied our people justice for reasons that could be resolved through administrative channels,” said the Deputy Minister of Information, Akol Khordit acceding to what the President stated earlier.

How do you expect corruption-free-delivery when judges have nothing to fend for their families? How reasonable is it for a judge who has no other businesses to be away from corruption when the government denies them of their known global privileges and rights? This lacks a single speck of logics.

It is unfortunate that the government did not address the exigencies expressed by judges. The dismissal of these judges is not only nonsensical, but it has totally vilified the judicial independence which is provided for under Article 122 of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, that “judicial power shall be vested in an independent institution to be known as the Judiciary.” How can it be termed an independent body when even the stationery for official duties cannot be found in the milieu of courts?

As a matter of fact, this tendency of sacking judges has maimed the tenet of judicial independence. Judges will always be in fear of being sacked should they follow the course of justice and this will negatively impact on delivery of justice in the country. The executive and legislature should always uphold, promote and respect the judicial independence.

One of the ways of promoting it, is by paying judges with a reasonable amount that will not insinuate malpractice in the judiciary, but instead allow them make their independent decisions.

The President has infringed on Article 134 of the Transitional Constitution that provides that “Justices and Judges may be removed by an order of the President for gross misconduct, incompetence and incapacity and upon the recommendation of the National Judicial Service Commission.” He happily failed to get recommendation from the National Judicial Service Commission which should have correctly defined what is meant by “gross misconduct.”

The exigencies by judges can by no means be gross misconduct. Black Law’s dictionary defines misconduct as “a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a dereliction from duty or unlawful behaviour.” The spokesman of judges’ Union Gari Raymondo made it clear to the public that “we are not saying all demands should be resolved in one day, but for example, a judge needs the provisions of courtrooms, a means of transport that will take a judge from his house to court, we need office stationery, we need office papers so that we can give our services to our people.” Can these exigent situation be said to be gross misconduct? It is not gross misconduct at law.

Seeing outside the lenses of the law, the President is dragging the judiciary into the bin of nothingness. Put simply, the sacking of the thirteen justices and judges is as immoderately wrong as the executive has always extended its dirty arms into the judiciary. This is uncalled for in a democratic society where delivery of justice is the prime purpose of the existence of the judiciary.

The government has confusingly failed to address legal issues in what it takes to have corruption free delivery of justice. Instead of addressing their needs in a reasonable manner, the President knowingly opted to follow the course that will perpetuate the existence of that living force, do I need to call it corruption when it’s obviously known?

This decision is not only adverse to those individual judges but it is too nonsensical and a looming boomerang to the entire country.

You can reach the author, Mabil Manyok Nhial, via his email: Mabil Manyok <>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

  1. David says:

    I think it will be good for the public to come out and demand the resignation of the president. he need to be sacked too and this is a time.


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