Traditional leaders trained to harmonize customary and statutory law systems
Juba: Twenty traditional leaders from across South Sudan’s ten states were trained in customary and statutory law systems, providing them with basic training on principles of human rights and women’s rights. The three-day workshop focused on providing a better understanding of customary law and identifying inconsistencies for alignment with principles of statutory courts and the Bill of Rights of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan. The workshop specifically focused on the status of women and children under customary law practices and gender imbalances.
The training was hosted by the Ministry of Justice and the Local Government Board, and facilitated by UNDP in partnership with UNWOMEN and UNMISS. Similar trainings are being conducted in Lakes, Warrap, and Jonglei states, with a plan to roll out the training to all the states in 2014.
Welcoming the workshop as an important tool to help traditional authorities to be effective in their duties, Makec Mayar, the Paramount Chief of Warrap, stressed the need for regular trainings. He stated: “We need to know our roles and limits, learn the new and the right court procedures and how to apply the local government regulations.”
The Undersecretary to the Ministry of Justice, Jeremiah Swaka Moses Wani, noted that the training was an opportunity for the Ministry of Justice, the Local Government Board and the Judiciary to exchange ideas on the place of customary law in South Sudan. Del Rumdit Deng, Director General, Local Government Board, underscored the need for government counterparts and traditional leaders to work together and exchange ideas in the effective dispensation of justice across the country.
Ms. Amanda Serumaga, Deputy Country Director, UNDP South Sudan, affirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the legal framework of customary law and its interrelation with the statutory system through a consultative process inclusive of diverse stakeholders.
Commenting on the training, Dr. Rowland Cole, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor for the Ministry of Justice said: “The training of traditional leaders on customary law and human rights has been very rewarding. We are encouraged that the recipients of the training were very engaged as well as receptive to their roles as agents of change”.
UNDP has been supporting efforts to build and enhance the capacity of traditional leaders to increase their understanding of human rights and women’s justice issues including their access to justice. UNDP has also supported the Ministry of Justice in the development of a Customary Law Centre for South Sudan in Rumbek, Lakes State.
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