EES Justice Sector Still Facing Significant Challenges

Eastern Equatoria State special police unit pose for a group photo after their training in ToritThe state seeks to improve access to justice by upholding the rule of law in conformity with the international standards, the State Minister of Public Administration and Internal Affairs told a forum held at Hotel Torit in EES late last month.    

During the forum the participants presented key challenges among them are the security/law enforcer’s incompetency to implement the required policies. It was discussed that even those police officers who had undergone special trainings at different times are stilling failing to meet public expectations. 

They said that in counties and payams where the police are deployed by the state government to deliver services accordingly, they have failed to provide a comprehensive review of the state’s performance in community policing. 
The participants also complained that police and judges deployed in counties and payams have continued to face accommodation challenges hence logistical setbacks. 
The forum also noted that people’s attitudes towards the rule of law are still negative as they still value customary laws.     

Even after the South Sudan government’s considerable progress since the country’s decisive break away from Sudan, the justice sector still faces significant challenges in meeting constitutional and democratic commitments for the respect of human rights and the rule of law. 
The forum proposed practical recommendations, calling on the Government to take steps to ensure further consolidation of changes that have taken place since the independence of South Sudan in July last year and it called for democratic structures and division of roles of law enforcement agencies.    
The minister has also recommended that although implementation of the rule of law to realize justice has been difficult, it should be done bit by bit in a post-conflict country like south Sudan saying operational initiatives and policy approaches have been adopted by agencies and institutions involved in the area of rule of law reforms with UNDP, UNPOL from UNMISS and his ministry was taking the lead now. 

His ministry has identified key lessons learnt in the last few months arguing that although challenges are increasing radically, still improvements have been made by the state government and partners like UNDP and UNMISS/UNPOL have been supporting the state to pick up well. 
The officials appreciated the state government for including a comprehensive bill of rights; management of the justice sector in the state transitional constitution. 
The forum also resolves that despite gaining independence in July 2012, South Sudanese in general so far have no access to formal justice. However, they note that there is a growing focus on rule of law reforms in aid and development packages penetrating the country with evident support from international community through UN agencies and experts. 
The Minister said significant progress has been made in reforming the criminal justice sector despite serious setbacks which are challenging. 

Well-wishers have willingly expressed their interest to contribute towards reforming the sector through a carefully designed, comparative field project based on systematic results-based case study evaluations and drawing on the expertise of those that have worked in this field for years, could contribute substantially to the evolution of the field of rule of law reforms. 

If their inputs are borrowed and adopted for use, it would help provide direction, institutionalize and render accessible some of the lessons to guiding future programming in this area.

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