BY: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, MAKERERE UNIVERSITY, Kampala, SEPT/14/2013, SSN;
Article 45 of the Transition Constitution of the Republic of South of 2011 provides that every person born to a South Sudanese mother or father shall have an inalienable right to enjoy South Sudanese citizenship and nationality. The subject of this article rotates around the term inalienability of human rights in South Sudan.
The term “unalienable rights,” as used in the Constitution means that a right to citizenship and nationality cannot be surrendered, sold or transferred to someone else. Moreover, they are not granted by the States but accrued to any person by virtue of being born a human being. They’re also called natural rights.
It is mandatory for South Sudan Government as indicated by the word “shall” to ensure that the right to nationality and citizenship is assured for all South Sudanese. The inalienable rights require South Sudan to respect rights of South Sudanese to citizenship and nationality, which are the basis of their identity.
The respect of citizenship and nationality requires South Sudan to promote, fulfil and enable every South Sudanese to realize them. In other words, inalienable rights also referred to as natural rights. Natural rights are rights which are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable.
The inalienable rights give rise to citizenship and nationality. They are the basis of equal rights and duties for all South Sudanese. Every citizen in South Sudan must be allowed to enjoy all the rights to citizenship and nationality guaranteed by the Transitional Constitution of 2011 without any limitation of any kind. They are protected by law of South Sudan.
The law regulates citizenship and naturalization and ensures that no any citizen whether naturally born by one or both parents who are South Sudanese by nationality or naturalized shall be deprived of his or her acquired citizenship except in accordance with the law.
The South Sudan Nationality Act 2011 entered into force on 9 July 2011 applies the referendum criteria that were applied during the referendum where the South Sudanese nationality of individuals is determined by virtue of a child being born to one parent, grandparent or great-grandparent born in South Sudan and also to individuals belonging to one of the “indigenous ethnic communities of South Sudan”, and to those whose parents or grandparents had been habitual residents of South Sudan since 1956 to 9th July, 2011.
The right to nationality is therefore guaranteed by the Transitional Constitution of 2011 and the South Sudan Nationality Act 2011. Hence, the right of all South Sudanese to acquire South Sudanese nationality is inalienable right that the Republic of South is to ensure that it is accessible to all.
The Republic of South Sudan must facilitate every South Sudanese to have access to national identity, which is the conclusive evidence of citizenship in South Sudan.
The national identity card must be made accessible to all. Accessibility has the following elements: it must be non-discriminatory; it must have physical accessibility, economic and information accessibility to all citizens.
The Republic of South Sudan must stop the government of Lakes State policies of hiking the taxation fee charged for issuing national identity card, which denies many South Sudan citizens from Lakes State their right to nationality and citizenship contrary to Article 45 of the Transitional Constitution 2011 and against the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 1961.
By increasing fee for acquiring national identity card from about seventy South Sudanese Pounds charged in Juba to three hundred pounds in Lakes State is very unfortunate, discriminatory and a violation against the rights of all South Sudanese in Lakes State.
It prevents many from accessing their right to nationality due to poverty and by implication denies them their inalienable right to citizenship.
Citizenship is the basis of equal rights and duties for all South Sudanese. The citizens of South Sudan from Lakes State are being denied economic accessibility to acquire nationality.
The reason being that majority of the citizens in South Sudan are living on less than dollar a day and cannot afford to pay to pay three hundred pounds charged on the national identity; it is unreasonable action to see State nationality office charging such price.
The action of Lakes State office of national identity card for charging citizens of South Sudan from Lakes State such an amount of money is unconstitutional and illegal.
In addition, the action is discriminatory, which is against Article 14 of the Transitional Constitutional of the Republic of South Sudan. It is discriminatory because the people of Lakes State are being charged separately from those in Juba.
The policy of Lakes State is money minded. The policies should not be money oriented and exploitative in nature to the extent of forgetting that the citizens of South Sudan have suffered enough from economic disparities. The policies of the Government should be tuned towards empowering all the citizens economically.
The fact that South Sudan is facing economic difficulties does not warrant the government of the Republic of South Sudan to exploit the citizens. The action of the State office of nationality is bad and there is a need for condemnation.
A lack of resources cannot justify inaction or indefinite postponement of measures to implement all human rights including facilitating accessibility to the national identity card.
The Republic of South Sudan must, if it decides to delay or postpone the realization of other rights, it must demonstrate that they are making every effort to improve the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, even when resources are scarce.
The Republic of South Sudan, as a matter of priority, must seek to ensure that every South Sudanese has an access to nationality. The national identity card which qualifies individual to be a national of a given country is a special document.
The national identity card is not like any other normal document that can just be forgone or postponed. As it is known in South Sudan, an individual cannot successfully apply for employment without national identity card.
Denying it to people of South Sudan indirectly through hiking of fees is a violation of the rights of South Sudanese to employment of all kinds as they are likely to be treated like foreigners in their own country.
The action of the Lakes State is illogical and disproportionate. The government of Lakes State of the Republic of South Sudan should not treat her own citizens in a colonialist style.
The Republic of South Sudan should change this type of style of running the country and instead, its policies should be determined by the welfare of the citizens, which should be the driving force behind every government service in South Sudan.
The government of the republic of South Sudan should not forget the reasons why Southerners took up arms. The long and heroic struggle South Sudanese underwent was basically for justice, freedom, equality and dignity in South Sudan.
The national identity being one of the essential goods should be availed to all citizens at equal but cheaper or subsidized prices. It is unlawful to charge people based on what they would have paid if they were to travel as it is the determining factor for increasing the fee for national identity in Lakes State.
The reason for creating decentralization in the issuing of the national identity is to reduce the expenses the citizens would have incurred if they were to travel and also make services available to citizens at an equal rate.
The government in Juba must clean up all the officers that corrupt the system to their own benefit. It is sad to always talk about Lakes State for wrong reasons.
In conclusion, I call upon the government of the Republic of South Sudan to intervene and investigate the increase in the money paid for the national identity card and set the price at equal rate with that which is charged on national identity card in Juba. There is no need in increasing the money charged on the national identity in Lakes State, Rumbek.
NB; the Author is South Sudanese Fourth Year Law Student from Makerere University Uganda. He can be reached via: +256783579256, or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org