Caption: Group picture of the participants of the Round Table Discussion on mobile courts workshop, Dembesh Hotel, Juba

19 October 2018, Juba — United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Access to Justice Project organised a one-day Round Table Discussion on mobile courts with the objective of reflecting on challenges and taking stock of achievements of such courts.

Hon. Justice Stephen Simon Benjingwa, Judiciary of South Sudan, inaugurated the workshop which took place at Dembesh Hotel in Juba. A total of 25 participants from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Judiciary of South Sudan participated during the discussions.

The round-table discussion focused on experiences, challenges and lessons learned during mobile courts operations in Ruweng, Pibor, Yirol, Yambio, Kapoeta and Bentiu. The event provided a platform for judges and prosecutors assigned to the mobile courts to take stock of progress and reflect on their experiences.  The discussion provided a thorough evaluation of the mobile courts and guidelines for the effective and prompt dispensation of justice.

In his opening remarks, Justice Kulang Jeroboam, Acting President of the Court of Appeal of Greater Upper Nile Circuit and supervisor of mobile courts, said that the mobile courts face a lot of challenges mainly in accessing office space and mobility for the personnel.

Meanwhile, Hon. Filberto Mayuot Mareng, Director of Public Prosecution at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, stated that despite the challenges, the mobile courts have achieved the intended goals, but cautioned that more work and financing are required to meet the demands for justice in the newly created states.

Hon. Justice Stephen Simon Benjingwa, Judiciary of South Sudan, underscored the importance of mobile courts in the country. He said that mobile courts are a success. According to him, 51% of the cases placed before the mobile courts have been dealt with. “This is a tremendous development, and justice is reaching to those remote areas,” Justice Stephen affirmed. He noted that the Judiciary intends to complete the remaining 49% of cases before the end of the year. Justice Benjingwa continued, “Through the mobile courts, South Sudanese in some remote areas have seen judges for the first time in their lives. Justice and fairness are served as citizens are now able to access the courts. The mobile courts are one of the successful tools of the Judiciary of South Sudan.”

Speaking on behalf of UNDP, Chief Technical Advisor Dr Rowland Cole noted that, “Mobile courts are relevant to the extension of state authority within the development framework of developing countries and South Sudan is no exception. A judicial system that reaches the population and provides remedies to disputes in central to sustainable peace and crucial to the implementation of the revitalised peace agreement.” He expressed appreciation to the Kingdom of the Netherlands for providing funding in respect of the mobile courts.

The Round Table Discussion found among other things that the mobile courts have been instrumental in resolving communal tensions by providing justice, thereby forestalling revenge killings. It was recognised that the presence of mobile courts in the states and remote parts of South Sudan has significantly reduced case backlogs. Further, prolonged and arbitrary detention (PAD) and denial of the right to access speedy justice remedies has been reduced. The participants resolved that the various sectors within the justice sector should strengthen coordination mechanisms to maintain a sector-wide approach regarding support to the mobile courts.

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