By Tong Kot Kuocnin, KENYA, JAN/27/2016, SSN;
Although judges are servants of the public, they are not public servants. The duty of a judge is not to give effect to the policy of the government of the day, but to administer justice according to law, without fear or favor and without regards to the policies of the executive government.
There are four major aspects of judicial status or performance namely: independence, impartiality, fairness and competence.
The independence of the judiciary from the executive is indispensable if there is to be public confidence in the administration of justice. However, the malignant inertia, unruly and unscrupulous behaviour that has rocked the judiciary since the current CJ took over the administration could warrant unspeakable dysfunctionality of the judiciary and would intrinsically provoke mistrust of the institution trusted as the last hope in retrieving back rights infringed on and maliciously encroached upon aberrantly.
It has become a common saying that the judiciary in South Sudan is in abeyance where many judges whether senior or junior point fingers at the CJ for not doing enough in addressing most pressing issues of concern both for them and the institution to truly observe its boundaries of separation of powers, independence and impartiality which are the tenets of a true judiciary.
The gap between the CJ and his colleagues grows wider every day and causes many junior judges to think of quitting the institution simply because it is not truly elegant as it should be.
Many judges and advocates are discontented with the way the CJ is running the Judiciary and this is manifested by incessant and recurrent lack of papers in the court causing judges and advocates postponing hearing of cases because of the complete lack of papers which the CJ took no measure to correct and avert at all from occurring in the future which a breach of the right to a speedy hearing and trial.
If the CJ travels to a foreign country without any approval of minor things like toilet paper, it will wait until he comes back and nobody, not even the deputy CJ in his capacity as second man to the CJ, approve toilet papers for use in the courts.
This has caused a lot of discontentment in the administration of the institution and raised eyebrows of not only the judges and advocates but the general public as to whether the judiciary has been privatized and has become the property of the Chief Justice.
Many judges are discontented also over prolonged and complete lack of approval of money for medical treatment, a delay which has caused death of many of their colleagues, who even at far places in the remote areas could be asked to wait in the their respective places of work until their medical requests are granted.
As is usual, it takes months if not a year plus to either get approval or rejection based on whether the junior judge has someone senior in the judiciary or government as a whole.
What legacy would Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut leave behind? A legacy of a Chief Justice who has immersed the judiciary into mud?
Or a legacy of a Chief Justice who has recruited Judicial Assistants on who their fathers and uncles are and not on merits of what they can do to the people of south Sudan?
What legacy would he exactly leave behind? A Chief Justice who controls everything from toilet paper, court papers to entirely everything, what a great Chief Justice?
I just don’t have all the answers to these questions but I am sure you have all the answers, if you don’t then President Salva Kiir has all the answers of keeping him on such a prestigious position meant to deliver judicial and legal services to the people but not to worship him if he issued a decree creating 28 states.
Time for Justice Reec to vacate his seat has come because he unproductively and indignantly sat in the office only to either appease the leadership of the nation by praising and congratulating him on certain decisions or by recruiting on the basis of the people in the government who enjoy and have close relationships with the leadership.
Why too many judges and justices are discontented with Justice Reec’s administration is a combination of these issues and others which have not caught the ears of this author.
I respect Justice Reec as a person and as an elder, he is such a highly educated man, very gracious and active and admired by many at the time, but upon his ascension to the position of Chief Justice, the man suddenly detached and divorced himself from the people.
He closed his eyes and ears and disabled himself from even his immediate close friends and only be regularly associated and aligned to only the people who have easiest access to the leadership.
Be independent, impartial and non-partisan if you want to register a clean, gracious and admirable image and legacy to be remembered after your departure. Don’t take it personal, because you occupy a place and position which everyone has constitutional right of expression if things turn into an uncalled direction. Don’t take it personal.
Tong Kot Kuocnin is a Master of Laws (LLM) Candidate at the School of Law, University of Nairobi. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org