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25 customary court judges in Rumbek trained by UNMISS Human Rights on judicial standards

To uphold rule of law in Lakes state, UNMISS recently trained customary court judges from eight counties on their roles and responsibilities. Photo by James Mawien Manyuol/UNMISS.

Creating an environment where rule of law thrives is a collective responsibility.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), as part of its ongoing efforts to bolster local capacities in this regard recently held a two-day training for 25 judges who adjudicate cases in customary courts in Rumbek.

Organized by the mission’s Human Rights Division, participants spanned eight counties of Lakes state with the aim of coaching them on matters such as jurisdiction limits, the overall role of the judiciary and functions that fall within the purview of customary courts.

Other topics covered: Upholding the rights of women and children, plus the pressing need to improve coordination between the judiciary and customary courts on curbing criminality.

“As community members we have a responsibility to stop defending or protecting criminals. The government will not condone those who take the law into their hands,” said Makuer Mabor, state Minister for Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies, while speaking at the forum.

Minister Mabor urged participants to extend their cooperation in apprehending and meting out justice to criminals and reminded them of their duty to ensure any unlawful activity is reported to authorities immediately.

For his part, Malok Makoi, Chair of the state’s Human Rights Commission, underlined that three special courts were established in Rumbek, Cueibet and Yirol earlier this year to expedite trials of pending cases.

Mr. Makoi had another request—for the state government to clearly delineate the nature of cases that can be presented before customary courts, special courts and high courts, respectively.

Peter Akuoc, the Director of Traditional Authority, located within the Ministry of Local Government and Law Enforcement Agencies, also had an additional ask. He called for participants to uphold and support the upcoming disarmament process across the Lakes region.

Chief Malith Mapuor Chuot, a participant from Yirol East County appreciated the workshop, saying that the training was timely as there is relative calm and stability in the state.

“We have worked hard to ensure that the Lakes region is relatively peaceful and we don’t want cattle rustling, revenge killings or looting along our roads. We are, therefore, here to learn more about our responsibilities so that we can assist the government in ushering in a prosperous future for all communities,” he stated.