Ministry of Justice holds Consultative Workshop on New Policy FrameworkFeb 14, 2018
A consultative workshop on a newly developed policy framework of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, with financial and technical support from UNDP’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law project, is being held this week in Juba.
The purpose of the consultation is to seek feedback from all stakeholders on proposed reforms aimed at strengthening the justice sector in South Sudan. Participants are reviewing a policy framework that undertakes a comprehensive assessment of the human, technical, financial, and capacity needs of the justice sector in South Sudan.
In his opening remarks, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Hon. Paulino Wanawila said that the Ministry encounters several challenges in delivering justice in the country. He urged participants to look critically at the contradiction between the formal and informal laws, including the lack of a unified and harmonized customary law system. He said the existence of 64 sets of ethnic customary laws in South Sudan makes the delivery of justice under the customary system problematic. This, he noted, is compounded by the fact that the Judiciary does not have supervisory powers over customary courts. He also cautioned that legal aid should be delivered by an independent body that is autonomous from the Government, since it [government] cannot pose as prosecutor and defender at the same time.
Speaking on behalf the European Union, Mr. Stefano De Leo said that the EU considers the promotion of the rule of law sector in South Sudan as an essential part of the country’s future. He said that the issue of justice is complex and that the law should be applied in letter and spirit. He identified key attributes that are important for a justice system, namely: the issue of accountability under the laws, the existence of just laws that protect fundamental rights including personal property, protection of human rights, the publication of laws, access to information, civic participation, accessibility to file complaints, and timely delivery of justice.
Dr. Rowland Cole, Chief Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, speaking on behalf of UNDP’s Country Director, said the policy framework document is transformative and seeks to reform the justice sector in South Sudan, adding that the expected reforms are timely, as they come as issues are being discussed pursuant to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, including accountability.
“UNDP, in collaboration with donors and other agencies, will continue to partner with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in shaping the policy direction of the Ministry through providing technical and other support for the development of the rule of law in South Sudan to ensure that access to justice is accessible, affordable, and available,’’ Dr. Rowland stated.
The meeting brings together all interested stakeholders to start a two-day conversation to review the Ministry’s vision, mission and core values; current structure, functions and mandate; administrative and supervisory framework; autonomous institutions overseen by the Ministry; proposed reforms; implementation framework; and present staffing levels of the Ministry. The workshop provides the Ministry an opportunity to consult with its partners regarding its vision, catalogue its key medium and long-term strategies.
Present at the workshop were representatives of the Judiciary of South Sudan, Ministry of Defence, South Sudan Bar Association, South Sudan Civil Society Alliance and the Juba College of Law. Also present were representatives of the donor community including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada and Norway.