Increasing Access to Justice, Fostering the Rule of Law

A civil court judge tries a case at the courthouse in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State
A civil court judge tries a case at the courthouse in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State UNDP/ Brian Sokol

“Our people, if they see this building and receive the services they expect from this institution will feel satisfaction that we are achieving what we fought for, what we promised them to do” stated Honourable Jairo Duot Bior, President of the Bor High Court during the May 2013 handover of the High Court.   

 

Rule of Law and Development

Rule of law is essential for security, economic growth and the provision of social services in South Sudan, providing peaceful resolution of conflict and ensuring the rights of all people are respected. The majority of civil and criminal cases in South Sudan are adjudicated by customary courts and this court will help expand formal justice services to the citizens of Jonglei.

 

The Bor High Court is staffed by public prosecutors and a resident judge who will serve the entire state and hear appeals from the county courts.   Mr. Balázs Horváth, Country Director UNDP explained the significance, stating “Establishing a high court will help ensure that all persons, institutions and entities are accountable to laws that are publicly enacted, equally enforced, independently adjudicated and are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.”

 

Increasing access to formal justice institutions

The substantive extension of state authority remains a fundamental challenge for the Government. UNDP’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law programme supports the  Judiciary, Ministries of Justice and Interior – Police and Prisons to: increase access to the formal justice institutions through effective case management to reduce prison overcrowding and prolonged pre-trial and arbitrary detention; and the review of laws, administrative policies and procedures to ensure equitable and rights based access to justice.

 

In addition UNDP has supported the South Sudan National Police Service to implement a community-policing model, to engage in monthly community rule of law forums that aim to increase awareness of citizens’ rights and to establish a mechanism to collect crime data in order to inform policy, guide decisions and measure impact of policing initiatives.  At the same time, UNDP supported registration of police and prison personnel to assess the strength of the services and inform training. 

 

Honourable Kuol Manyang Juuk, Governor of Jonglei stated “this is not the first partnership we have had with UNDP. We have also built the Bor Central Prison and police stations.”  Police stations in Bor South, Pochalla and Twic East were recently completely.  Honourable Justice Attilio Fuad Zolein, on behalf of the Chief Justice acknowledged the support of the Government of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and UNDP stating “We are able to bring justice and judges to the people of Jonglei with support from Canada and UNDP.”