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South Sudan pledges to empower traditional justice system

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By Ngor Arol Garang

December 22, 2010 (ABYEI) - With most southern Sudanese expected to vote for independence in a referendum on January 9 next year, authorities from the southern state of Warrap have pledged to empower the traditional justice system.

Nyandeng Malek, the governor of Warrap State while opening traditional council conference hall in Kuajok, capital of Warrap, pledged to empower traditional justice system by working closely with local chiefs in the area.

“As governor of the state, I’m much aware of the important role played by traditional leaders. Traditional authorities are very important in managing local disputes and misunderstandings arising from cattle related conflict or social matters,” said Malek, the only elected SPLM woman official to hold such a high profile executive position.

“We are determined to work with you, especially in recognizing your roles in protecting human rights,” she told audience predominantly of chiefs, pledging to work closely with the over 800 chiefs spread across Warrap to promote peace and stability before and after the referendum.

The government assured local chief of her commitment to working together with the chief and other local authorities in initiating conflict management mechanisms.

“I assure you of my commitment as the state government to working together before and after referendum in order to build trust and confidence in the application of local justice system,” said governor Nyadeng in speech obtained by Sudan Tribune.

Makuc Makuc Ngongdit, SPLM Secretary General in the state government and who holds additional assignment as political affairs advisor to the governor, in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune commended State governor for recognizing role played by the traditional Chiefs in administering local justice and in initiating conflict management mechanisms.

“We are much aware of the important role played by chiefs. They are the custodian of local norms and cultural heritage. Their presence among the local community plays an important role when it comes to knowing and judging individual cases based on understanding of daily happenings within their communities. They are, therefore, serving as bridge between government and local community,” said Makuc.

He said chiefs need to be close to the government so that they assist in offering advice on issues connected to the traditional matters and service delivery.

Yel Mayar, deputy governor of Warrap also told Sudan Tribune that they realized that chiefs are hardly found in urban towns because of housing facilities and when there is an urgent message it takes three to four days to get a response because they are often in areas hardly accessed by road.

The official explained that traditional council hall would serve as a location where chiefs can meet to discuss pressing issues and share ideas about the dispensation of local justice.

In 2010, Warrap, being one of the 10 southern states, is among the worst affected by inter-communal violence, often with Lakes State in areas of Tonj counties. It also experiences the same with the neighboring counties of Panjar and Mayom in Unity State.

In one incident occurring in January, 140 people were killed in a cattle raid where thousands of domestic animals were stolen. Such raids, and deadly disputes between different communities and individuals, create a huge demand for mechanisms to deliver compensation, corrective justice and forums for the negotiated return of stolen property.

Chiefs – in effect the most local of government administrators – were given such duties by Sudan’s colonial powers, working at the lower end of a judicial hierarchy that combined elements of both customary and statutory law.

However, during the decades of civil conflict that followed Sudan’s independence in 1956, and which continued until 2005, the more formal legal system collapsed almost entirely in the South, and the ability of chiefs to dispense justice and resolve disputes was severely compromised amid the fog of war.

Since coming into power in the south, after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, has been trying, particularly through the 2009 Local Government Act, to revive and strengthen a legal system in which chiefs and their courts play a crucial part.

Jok Madut Jok, a professor of history at an American university who comes from Warrap state, echoed this view.

“Chiefs are important as custodians of tradition,” says Jok, who is now serving as an under-secretary in the Southern government’s Ministry of Culture.

“They have an understanding of leadership that is based on their closeness to the people. The government regards them as a bridge between rural people and the central government.”

“As a chief, you have to understand the things that lead to disagreement, that potentially result in crimes,” Executive Chief Goon Madol Goon from Gogrial West County, said, citing issues within families over dowry and adultery as frequent cases he adjudicates in his local customary court.

Del Rumdeng, part of the South government’s Local Government Board, said chiefs had a duty to “prevent and resolve tribal conflicts by applying peaceful customary law and traditional conflict resolution mechanisms and mediation.

(ST)

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  • 24 December 2010 05:33, by saban John

    Congrats, this is a very good developments done by the government. But I advise you not to take advise from our traditional chiefs because they are not intelligent as arab chiefs in the north. Send some officials to north to borrow some arab chiefs to help us on how to go about it otherwise it will fall. Intelligent people like Sadi al mahdi are the one to be consulted on this matters.

    thanks

    • 24 December 2010 06:58, by landlord

      Ahahahaha

      Are you really an Equatorian or you was just faking it last time when you take side with omonio de otario and lie by saying that Mr koul manyang juuk was a part of nassir gang wheras he was kicking nyagat asses buddy?

      Anyway maybe you re gatwech who is doom to death by greadness of riek machar tenydog

      Don’t trust nyagat he or she will not do good for you,

      Death to nyagateen were ever they are

      • 24 December 2010 08:01, by Jayo

        Landlord;

        I understand you are bitter about the mistakes made by some of our current leaders during the war.But I will like to tell you that we (South Sudan) should forgive and forget whatever mistakes that were made during the war and focus on building our new nation.We need unity,peace and cooperation to achieve our gold of an independent and viable South Sudan.

        When people like you keep spreading hate and reminding Southerners of all the atrocities that happened during the war, you are not helping South Sudanese in achieving an independent and viable nation. Rather you are sowing seeds of hatred,violent and disunity.In fact you are seconding the Arab narrative that South Sudan will disintegrate once they separate from the North because their tribes don’t go a long.

        I urge you to change your perception of other tribes that are not yours.Tribalism is the second biggest enemy of South Sudan after Jallaba.

        • 24 December 2010 12:05, by Deng E. Manyuon

          Hi Jayo,
          You have put right to your brother Landlord by acknowledging his bitterness about some mistakes made by some of our current leaders during the war. Yes it is a time to forget the pass and forgive each other. There should be no room for preacing hatred. We can not be a nation by excluding some tribes. To form a strong nation, we should respect diversity. Attrocities comitted in the pass are condemnable. They have created painful feeling. They have affected most of Dinka and Nuer families. Yet it is a time to forgive one another. The only fair justice in this regard is to compensate ourselves by voting for a new nation with a vision.

          Coming to the report, I have a little reservation about empowering our traditional justice in Warrap! I am pro-customary laws. But these beautiful laws should be incorporated into the state laws/judiciary system. There have been a rapid changes in our lives. The cases are also changing and evolving. We need to cope up with the change.

          My dear Saban John,
          I support the idea of adopting from others positive things. But Dinka customary laws are full of positive things. There is no need for Warrap State to seek assistance from Arab in the North, especially the so called El-Mahadia or El-Mirghania. Let them prove their ability and effectiveness first in the North. Stay calm!!!!

          Deng

    • 24 December 2010 22:59, by Marco A. Wek

      The illiterate Northern Sudanese who fools himself by calling himself John the only name they know well because of our late hero Dr. John Garang De Mabior who was their nightmare does not know how to spell comrades an indication which shows he is a stupid Arab who does not know English. The illiterate Northerner with the fake name John Saba does not even know how to spell his native name Mahdi which he spelt Madi. By the way stupid illiterate John Saban, Madi is name of a tribe in Southern Sudan. Don’t belittle yourself, you can go to the Arabic website and write any nonsense about Southern Sudan and by the you sound and look so STUPID every time you say you are Southern Sudanese for the real ones such as myself and the rest do not need to say they are Southern Sudanese because they are but a Northerner like you would always say I am Southern Sudanese when the truth is well visable like the sky. Keep on fooling yourself Nothern chicken head . Your time will come when you will shut up and by the way, next time try to have Arabic-English Dictionary, it might be of some help to you.

  • 24 December 2010 07:11, by Anyang

    Saban John,

    You dead creature,keep playing with the fire but bear in mind that your days are numbered,whether you’re in South or North, you will sooner or later pays for your ruthlessness.Otherwise enjoy.

    • 24 December 2010 09:22, by Victory

      Landlord,
      you foolish element may you shup up your mouth,your replies to every comments in this website is soooo disgusting & provacative,but i will not answer you now,i really doubt you education man.
      Back to my friend saban john,may i know how much amount of money have you received from Ncp & your husbend al,bashir in particuler? As my bro anyany told u previously soon than later you will be finished, your fools(arabs)are nothing but confused element who swims in the storm of deception by the Satan prophet mohamend(the satan messenger) & if you are a demond posessd why not cofess it so Jesus Christ the son of God can delievery you from demonic oppresion,perhebs you can be save from the blindfold that you have & your perception can be covert to a better position,may God bless south Sudan.

      • 24 December 2010 23:23, by Marco A. Wek

        Brother Victory, the so called John Saban is a Northern Sudanese Islamic fundamentalist who is possed by His Father Satan the Devile of the Satanic Vision. His pretending for being a Southerner will not do him any good. We do write our views towards North Sudan as Southerners and there is no way a brave Southerner could hide under the shadow of Northern Sudanese just to write what we think about them, yes there are very few good Northern Sudanese that we will well to Southern Sudan and we know who they are.



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