Forms of Injustices in South Sudan

LAWS CHANGE DEPENDING ON WHO’S MAKING THEM, BUT JUSTICE IS JUSTICE: ISAIAH ABRAHAM AND OTHERS WHO SUFFER INJUSTICES UNDER THE GOVERNMENT NEED JUSTICE TO BE DONE.

By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, KAMPALA, NOV/17/2013, SSN;

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It is injustice that the order of society is centered. Justice delayed, is justice denied.

Justice must be done to Isaiah Abraham and other people who have suffered the same fate they are still yearning for justice.

This article sets out to explain the meaning and the characteristics of justice, the meaning of civilization and civilized society in general in relation to justice, the role of justice, and the need for justice to Abraham and his family and others who suffered injustices and where justice has been denied in South Sudan and finally concludes with the solution of what should be done to ensure that all South Sudanese enjoy justice in South Sudan.

Justice does not need law to keep it but the spirit of human feelings to ensure it and to feel for humanity.

Moreover, other wars fought due to injustices like the Sudanese Wars, all have their roots in the injustice where the majority oppressed the minority.

Although I believe as Late Leader Garang De Mabor did, ‘there is nothing like the minority of the majority’. The word “minority” or “majority” are coined to create confusion so that the canny people benefit out of confusion. All these are done to rob people of the resources and to deny them justice.

It ensures that the rule of law rather than the rules of nature prevail in regulating human conduct.

Therefore, natural justice is that kind of justice, which gives a person either affected or one whose action has affected the other a right to be heard while the person in charge of hearing two parties remains neutral in the case. The whole meaning of natural justice is to preserve the dignity of the persons affected or the accused.

The reason is simply, justice ought not only to be done but it must be seen to be done by both parties to the case and the general public.

Coming to South Sudan, it has to be noted that in the case of South Sudan, there is lack of natural justice and we should never be blindfolded that we have justice while the freedom of speech is dying with those who stood for it.

Those who stood for justice with the aim of correcting wrongs in the society are being killed or tortured.

The case in point is that of Isaiah Abraham who is lying dead for ten months now yearning for justice but he has been forgotten. His wife and children have been left wondering at what happens to their beloved one.

Isaiah Abraham died while defending the freedom of speech; a sign of liberty and democracy that millions of South Sudanese gave their lives for.

One thing is clear about Abraham, he did not do it for himself but for the benefit of all of us; the benefit for all South Sudanese, however today, it became a problem for a Isaiah and his family. Isaiah Abraham was a man of courage and resilience.

In fact if justice exists in the society there will be no critics and no one will stand out as a person of courage.

We all believe that we fought the war to restore our dignity that was defaced under the Northern Regimes, which is true. We have won the war! But, have we won the spirit of our liberation? That is a good question but it can invite diverging opinions and different answers.

However, one thing is clear, South Sudan is slowly sliding back into what we haet to remember; the Old Sudan style of ruling.

The critics of the government for instance, are being murdered at the whims of the leaders; a chief for instance, is killed in Nimule, because of allegedly being against the authorities or being against his opponents or those who wield power.

I should not talk like a great philosopher who confuses people with big words but the truth is that ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ they say, but the fact remains, ‘justice must be done.’

It is a breach of the Constitution if the government fails to protect the citizens from being killed.

If the government has forgotten to safeguard principles of equality, justice, respect for human rights and the rule of law; freedom and dignity, then we as citizens must protect them.

We must hold government liable because Article 45 of the Transitional Constitution 2011 gives an inalienable right to be enjoyed by all South Sudanese citizens. The nationality and Citizenship is the basis of equal rights and duties for all South Sudanese.

By virtue of being South Sudanese we are guaranteed to enjoy all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Our rights as South Sudanese are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, which is a covenant among the people of South Sudan and between them and their government at every level and a commitment to respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in this Constitution.

Other instances where injustices have been occurring in South Sudan are: injustice are committed against the girl child. The right to education is denied to girls because of cows in cattle keeping communities.

The case scenarios of Ms. Mary K., a 16 year-old girl. She had a dream of becoming an accountant but her dream was cut short when she was forced to leave the school in order to marry a 50-year-old man who paid the father 60 cows according to the Human Rights Watch.

This was a serious violation of the girl right to education in South Sudan and it is another form of slavery and slave trade in South Sudan.

It is also discouraging to see the government official forcing his daughter who was a candidate in Primary Seven in Uganda into marry. This action was done by the Lakes State Governor, General Matur Chut who forced his Primary Seven daughter to get married.

The government kept quiet about this which shows that the Government of South Sudan does not care for the welfare and rights of its citizens. If it were a government that care for its citizen General Matur would have been called to answer for his action of contradicting the government policy of ensuring girl-child education. This was one of the major instances where injustices was seen.

Another example of injustice is where South Sudan’s official army has unlawfully killed and committed other serious violations against civilians in the context of a counterinsurgency campaign.

The action of soldiers in Jonglei State has forced thousands of citizens to flee their homes, making them more vulnerable to attacks from rival ethnic groups. South Sudan should hold all abusive soldiers to account and bolster military and civilian justice to curb further violations. This was also reported by Human Rights Watch.

The action of the soldiers was and is against international law because it amounted to forced evictions. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Fact Sheet No. 25 defines forced eviction as: “the involuntary removal of persons from their homes or land, directly or indirectly attributable to the State…..”

In its letter to the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC) pointed out that Soldiers from South Sudan’s army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and officers from the Auxiliary Police Force unlawfully killed over 95 people from the Murle ethnic group and Murle members of the security forces during an armed conflict in Pibor County, Jonglei state.

These killings are serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and the government of South Sudan has an obligation to hold those responsible to account.

We understand that the SPLA is conducting some other investigations, but we are concerned these do not address the majority of documented crimes against civilians and urge the government to investigate all incidents, including for example killings of civilians by soldiers in the Lotho village on December 4, 2013, in Pibor town on January 27, 2013 or in Manyabol town on May 26, 2013.

The omission of the authorities to protect the people of Jonglei State from being forced out of their land by armed groups or such armed group in connivance with the state authorities is a violation of the rights of the Jonglei State citizens which are enshrined in the international rights instruments, which South Sudan is a party thereto. It is a terrible injustice.

Another area where injustices are committed with impunity is the way criminals and suspects are handled. For instance, South Sudanese soldiers have unlawfully detained and ill-treated more than 130 civilians since February 2013 in response to armed violence and inter-communal fighting in Lakes state. Besides, there is a lot of torture going under military rule in Lakes State.

The infamous detention centres in Lakes State are Long-Chook around Rumbek Centre and Ngangtinga prison between Tonj and Cueibet County. Many citizens are innocently rotting in the cells in these two prisons.

To make matters worse, most of the prisoners are innocent they have never been proven guilty of any crime which they are accused of.

However, what is happening in Lakes State is a clear manifestation of torture, which is against international law and constitutes injustice against the citizens of Lakes State.

Another instance where injustice is seen is where peaceful protesters are killed but South Sudan state authorities have failed to carry out adequate investigations into the killing of eight peaceful protesters by government security forces.

The killing of those citizens who are exercising their democratic rights is a violation of Article 9 and many other Articles of the Transitional Constitution of 2011 of the republic of South Sudan. It is also a violation of the principle of personal liberty enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights. This is an justice that the government which is aspiring to promote democratic principles and the rule of law can commit against the innocent people.

All these are done in the name of keeping national security but the question is for whom is the security being kept if all citizens are criminals?

Is it not the government which in turn becomes an enemy of the people and people need to tell the government that it was wrong?

In addition there is a violation of religious rights in the country for instance Amnesty International reported that two members of the Presbyterian Church in South Sudan, Reverend Idris Nalos Kida and Pastor Trainee David Gayin, were arrested from their homes by security forces on 19 May 2013.

They are being detained incommunicado, without access to a lawyer or their family, and are at risk of torture or other forms of ill-treatment.

These is another form of injustice that is existing in South Sudan, and which reminds me of 1960s when Arkangelo Ali was killed in Rumbek, Lakes State by Arabs because of practising Christianity.

South Sudanese used to blame Arabs for such acts but now whom are they going to blame?

Finally, corruption is another form of injustice that is rampant in South Sudan. Ordinary South Sudanese had no access to hospitals or schools, because the people in power are stealing public funds, which they used to send their children to private schools abroad or to get the world’s best medical service.

This is shown in a remarkably short period of time, the name of South Sudan has become synonymous with corruption. This is a form of social injustice that South Sudanese have to face in their daily lives.

Therefore, it is important to state that LAWS CHANGE DEPENDING ON WHO’S MAKING THEM, BUT JUSTICE IS JUSTICE. The leaders make laws that suit them but justice will remain a disturbing factor in the government system.

To conclude, it is true to say that the solutions to South Sudan problems are not military rule or everyone joining the army; the solutions of South Sudan problems are to invest resources in the development of a human being that has conscience and love for the country.

In addition, to respect the rule of law by all and upheld the principle of constitutionalism, build more hospitals and empower every citizen economically to restore social justice. Build roads and strong infrastructure to make services available to all.

I believe if these are done, the problems of South Sudan will be solved and these are the permanent solutions to South Sudanese problem.

NB/ The Author is Fourth Year Law Student in Makerere Law School and he can be reach via: Email: juoldaniel@yahoo.com; or +256783579256

3 Comments

  1. majongdit says:

    Those that you are referring to in your end part have been what we all yearn for. The SPLA soldiers who committed crimes in Jonglei have been sentenced to death. The murle criminals are still at large. Now who does anyone find easily to blame?
    The demand for justice in the country, as depicted in your article, is a serious concern. None of us liked the death of Isaiah Abraham. But is anything there to point to who are the immediate culprits? We don’t know!

    Justice anywhere is justice everywhere. That is the strongest message I take from this article. However, I would equally urge that criminality and unlawfulness should be punished anywhere they are committed in. Members of mungiki are in south sudan and plus their crime counterparts from Uganda all here you need not wonder that our problem is not lack of good roads, hospitals and schools but we will also be struggling from being immersed into the world of unknown.

    I will continue to say my condolences to the family of Isaiah but I won’t stop saying that laws are being made by different bodies and they are implemented by different hands altogether. South Sudan is still a young country. Its judicial system is still weak. If any arrests have been made on Isaiah’s death at all then the blame is on the judiciary. Those who killed Isaiah should – must have been the best word – brought to book but since we still know nothing about that story we will not know how to judge and who to blame. Thank you

  2. Nhial Gatkuoth Chung says:

    Very informative article, these are all truth and beyond doubt. injustice in SS is like normal practice in our country. sequence of heinous crimes were committed and no significant steps taken to ensure that those cases are thoroughly interrogated and perpetrators are persecuted accordingly. To make things worse, Security organs are much involved in taking the country’s laws into their own hands and people become very suspicious of their activities especially at night where most of the cases occur.
    This puts people in predicament situation to understand how justice can be restored and people get convinced about the govt effort to curb this rampant insecurity and injustice. Power is people when there is public outcry about inadequate protection and widespread injustice.
    God will always remember his people and will rescue them in different ways. God will soon hear our cry for justice to prevail in our country and uproot those who are causing instability, killing kidnapping and other ill practices.

  3. Ayodeji Wilson says:

    The fight against all forms of injustices should be a daily battle, not once in a while.. We Fight! Fight!! Fight!!! And keep fighting untill the end…

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