Former Supreme Court judge joins South Sudan Bar Association
By Paul Jimbo
Any frequent visitor in the corridors of justice and the South Sudan Supreme Court will definitely identify him out of any crowd.
Justice Bullen Panchol Awal is a man of many hats and boast of a wealth of experience in his more than two three decades span in the judiciary.
The no-nonsense judge is known for his tough and landmark rulings that sent tongues wagging during his rulings.
Born in Baidit village in Bor in the 1950, Justice Awal plunged himself into the mucky waters of legal profession in 1975 as a legal assistant in the Republic of Sudan before being promoted to a second class judge in the Sudan Judiciary.
He would later become the mainstream Judiciary as an acting province judge in 1984 in the former Eastern Equatoria before joining his countrymen in the bush at the height of the liberation struggle.
While in the bush, Justice Awal kept his legal professional candle burning by serving as a soldier and a judge.
“I handled civil and criminal cases in the SPLA controlled areas. We were running the courts in the bush,” the tough talking lawyer says.
His mastery of his legal practice is not in doubt as he clearly recalls all the tough and challenging moments in a chronological order.
“When the military was separated in 1994 after the Chukudum Convention, I became the Deputy Chief Justice until the inception of the agreement when I was appointed a Justice to the Constitutional Court in Khartoum,” Justice Awal says with mean smile flashing on his face.
He recalls that when Justice Wol Makach, Deputy President of the Constitutional Court, or Chief Justice South Sudan, Justice Awal was appointed Deputy President of the Constitutional Court of Khartoum.
In 2011, Justice Awal would later be appointed as Justice in the Supreme Court in South Sudan.
“That was an appointment that never went down well with me as I was appointed a junior to my juniors. I was more experienced that most of my then bosses,” he says in a formative as he raises his index finger in gesture.
Justice Awal would soon bow out of the court corridors following his health status and so he prevailed upon President Salva Kiir Mayardit to allow him time to rest and recover.
He however paints a grim picture in the justice system in the country and advocates for introduction of death sentence as a penalty in murder cases.
“Criminal cases, more specifically murder is wide spread in South Sudan, guns are in the hands of civilians and all sorts of wrong people, I encourage the President to consider introducing death sentence,” Awal says.
He explains that death sentence could be the main deterrent to the sorry state of affairs in the country.
“I encourage death sentence because our situation does not allow cooperation, once you are found guilty of murder, there should never be an option but execution,” Mr Awal says.
Justice Awal urges the government to do more on disarming the civil population to realise complete peace.
“90 per cent of the peace process depends on the government and it is its responsibility to talk to rebel groups, make concessions because it has the resources,” he says clasping his hands together.
“We need more than normal efforts to achieve peace, the government must encourage rebels to come out and negotiate, there must be a conversation between the rebels and the government, this is what will lead to confidence building.”
Today, Justice Awal enjoys his full health and has once again thrown his hat in the corridors of justice.
He has officially joined the South Sudan Bar Association, a professional club of legal practitioners.
Justice Awal has formally completed the one-year requirement by the Judiciary Act, 2008.
“I offer both private and institutional legal consultancy, I can be an advocate in any civil or criminal case because I offer legal advice out of my experience and deep understanding of the law,” Awal says with ease.
Mr Awal is a Constitutional lawyer who trained at the University of Heidelberg, Germany and holds a fellowship from Max Plunck Institute of Constitutional Law and International Law (Germany).
Mr Awal is expected to be among the guides in legal practice in and outside courts.
Mr Awal intends to practice law under Alier Gaar Law Firm both in Bor and Juba but not the exclusion of other parts of South Sudan.