Casebook on Constitutional Litigation in South Sudan Reaches Validation Phase

Oct 23, 2017

Validation workshop on a draft resource book on constitutional litigation held in Juba, South Sudan. Photo: UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, held a one-day validation workshop for a draft resource book on constitutional litigation in South Sudan.

The resource book entitled "A Casebook on Constitutional Litigation in South Sudan" will serve as a resource for judges, legal practitioners and legal aid providers to conduct research on constitutional litigation. The guide will promote research, advance constitutional issues and enable citizens to secure appropriate remedies for violation of their rights. The casebook will produce extracts of case law, doctrinal overview and commentary that will extrapolate the substantive rights contained in the South Sudanese Bill of Rights.

The draft casebook is the first of its kind in South Sudan. Hon. Dr. Biong K. Deng, Chairperson of the Public Grievances Chamber, a body established in accordance with the Transitional Constitution (2011) delivered the keynote address at the workshop. In attendance were Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Hon. Sabri Lado Wani, who represented the Undersecretary of Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; Mr. James Arguin, head of UNMISS Rule of Law Division; Mr. Elfaki Chol Lual, Dean of the College of Law at the University of Juba; Prof Deng Awur Wenyin, also of the College of Law, and members of the reference group overseeing the development of the casebook.

“Our common aim must, I believe, be to find ways to increase the effectiveness of a constitutional design that endows individuals with the right to petition courts in the event their constitutional rights are infringed, and to petition other public bodies in other cases. I submit that we must examine both formal and informal means, with governmental and non-governmental actors, to ensure that the judiciary and public watchdog bodies can take up a more constitutional role,” said Dr. Deng during his keynote speech.

“The Casebook on Constitutional Litigation…can help judges and lawyers, particularly at the level of the Supreme Court, to filter out constitutional law questions and use them to guide and develop all other subordinate laws in their respective fields of application,” said Dr. Deng, also expressing gratitude to UNDP and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for undertaking to strengthen the rule of law and access to justice in South Sudan.

For his part, Hon. Wani, representing the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, stated that the casebook will enable the Ministry to fulfill its mandate to ensure that the rule of law is strengthened in South Sudan.

“A constitutional litigation casebook is extremely important in the current situation of this country because it will ensure that the Government, its institutions, as well as leaders of South Sudan are committed to respect and promote human rights as enshrined in the Constitution. This will ensure that those who violate rights enshrined in the Constitution will be held accountable,” said Hon. Wani.

“South Sudan is a constitutional democracy and has one of the most impressive bill of rights in the world. This casebook will help advocates to articulate the rights of citizens before the courts. The book is a guide and is not intended to instruct the courts as to its decisions. The courts shall develop the jurisprudence in relation to constitutional rights, while relying on the casebook to conduct comparative analysis in the determination of cases that are placed before them,” said UNDP Chief Technical Advisor Dr. Rowland Cole.

“Courts do not go around looking for cases but cases should be taken to court by practitioners. Practitioners should be able to identify constitutional issues and to protect the rights of citizens of South Sudan. The casebook should form the basis for such development,” said Dr. Cole during the closing of the workshop, and also thanked the participants for engaging in the event, noting that it will form part of the historical records of South Sudan.

The feedback from the validation workshop is being incorporated into the casebook prior to publication and dissemination  in hardcopy and online via the UNDP and Ministry of Justice websites. The project plans to train legal practitioners at national and state level on how to use the casebook and to revise the book periodically, to reflect developments in the law and court decisions. The casebook will be useful to and support legal aid providers, legal practitioners and judges in articulating the rights of South Sudanese.

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