By: Tong Kot Kuocnin, LLB (Juba), LLM (Nairobi), Specialist in Law, Governance & Democracy
University of Nairobi, Kenya, APR/27/2017, SSN;
In the previous article I authored titled ‘The Nation Needs a New Face in the Judiciary NOT Justice Chan Reec Anymore,’ and another piece titled, ‘Why Too Many Judges and Justices are discontented with Chief Justice Chan Reec’s Leadership in the Judiciary?’ I explored hitherto issues that, if the judiciary of South Sudan could indeed position itself in its rightful place.
These articles plus many others were greeted with hostility by many stooges and kitchen supporters of the Chief Justice leadership. They turned a blind eye to the important issues tackled in the articles for a simple fact that they are beneficiaries of that messed up leadership and care less of the important place the judiciary occupies as an institution in our country.
In this article, I ironically intends to bring to forefront the crisis which has pervasively infested the judiciary of South Sudan which lies not in the judiciary as a juridical institution but in the leadership of the incumbent Chief Justice.
However, the malignant inertia, unruly and unscrupulous behaviour, that has rocked the judiciary since the current Chief Justice took over the administration could warrant unspeakable dysfunctionality of the judiciary and has intrinsically provoked mistrust of the institution trusted as the last hope in retrieving back rights infringed on and maliciously encroached upon aberrantly by the most powerful and untouchable mafias and oligarchs.
It has become a common saying that the judiciary is in abeyance where many judges, whether senior or junior, point fingers at the Chief Justice of not doing enough in addressing most pressing issues of concern both for them and for the institution to truly observe its boundaries of separation of powers, independence and impartiality which are the tenets of the true judiciary as a third arm of the government.
The gap between the Chief Justice and his colleagues grows wider every day and causes many judges to think of quitting the institution simply because it is not truly elegant as it should be.
Many judges and justices are discontented with the way the Chief Justice is running the Judiciary and this is manifested by judges and justices incessant strikes since 2013.
Even with intervention of H. E. the president and his learned Advisor on Legal Affairs to address judges and justices demands in 2016, the Chief Justice again went and slept on the rights of the judges and justices.
The president resolved judges and justices strike in 2016 by releasing vehicles that were parked for the last six years to be distributed to them but the Chief Justice went and took all the keys and stored them in his living room, in his residence.
The Ministry of Finance was directed by the President to release their long overdue salaries into the account of the Judiciary but again the chief justice, being the sole signatory to the account, refused to release the money to the judges and justices again, causing the current ongoing judges and justices’ strike.
This is not a problem of the state anymore, but a leadership problem within the judiciary in which our learned chief justice perceives the judiciary as his own private property with which he can do what he likes at his own discretion.
Why too many judges and justices are discontented with Justice Reec’s administration is a combination of these issues and that’s why it has become a leadership problem not a crisis that other arms of government created.
The Chief Justice is of course the head of the judiciary and one charged by law with day-to-day running or administration of the judiciary. It is on his directives that the director of judges affairs in the judiciary acted upon a communication and if he happens not to be in town, then no toilet papers, ream papers, no transport and no cleaner to clean the court-rooms and everything comes to a standstill.
The nation needs a new face in the judiciary to salvage the credibility of the judiciary and restore confidence and trust of the people in the judiciary.
The hedge is against the president to come to his senses and correct the image of the judiciary by relieving the indignant chief justice due to his heedless consideration of opposing views which heisted the people of South Sudan off their legal and constitutional rights of access to justice, a crux that will not only cost him dearly but the admired and most respected institution among all institutions of the government in the world.
The nation needs a new face in the judiciary, a face that is herald to meeting the demands of judges and justice for the people of South Sudan.
A face which doesn’t worship the appointing authority and turns his back at the institution and the people it’s meant to serve.
A face determined to reshape the chattered image of the institution of Judiciary because the administration of the judiciary under Chief Justice Chan R. Madut is heretical not only to the members of legal fraternity but to the general public which resort to judiciary as the only hope in getting rights they deserved.
Heretofore, the nation needs a new face that is not detached, divorced and disabled from the members of the judiciary, the legal community and general public.
The nation needs a new face in the judiciary not Justice Chan Reec Madut anymore. The judiciary, judges, advocates and the general public have suffered more than enough during his tenure as Chief Justice and President of Supreme Court of South Sudan.
It must be admitted that the crisis that have now engulfed the judiciary were brought about by his dictatorial and weak leadership style. It is leadership problem that is now facing the judiciary not because resources aren’t available.