Resolve Judges’ grievances -Activist

Close to two months after justices and judges announced a nation-wide strike, a human rights organization is now calling on the government to solve the grievances of the judges to ensure respect for human rights and rule of law in the country.

Reech Malual, the Executive Director of Screen of Rights, said on Tuesday after meeting leaders of the striking judges, the inaction by the government to solve the issues of the judges means the judiciary is being overlooked.

“It is almost two months now since the start of the industrial action by South Sudan’s judges at all levels in the judicial system, the two month period is a clear evidence of downplaying requests by the justices and judges to remove Chief Justice; Chan Reech Madut and
improvement of work environment,” Malual said.

In April, justices and judges went on nationwide strike demanding for the resignation of the Chief Justice Chan Reech Madut, accusing him of mismanaging the affairs of the judiciary. In addition, they also demanded for salary increment and better working conditions.

Earlier on Tuesday, Geri Raymondo Legge, the spokesperson of the striking justices and judges committee said they will continue with the strike until their demands are met. He said they are waiting for action from the President after he promised them in April to solve their grievances.

There are 161 judges across the country who are on strike, only 10 judges in Juba, Bor and Aweil are working, according to the judges.

Activist Malual says the inaction of the government now has left one arm of the government (judiciary) non-functional, which could lead to break down of rule of law in the country.

“As a result many people are in detention without trial because there are no judges to try them. “Now people are put in detention whether they are guilty or not,” he said.

He says to shut down the branch of the government as the judiciary is creating a state of anarchy in the country, and a state of impunity since people know there is no rule of law in the country. “There is no country in the world where you can have two branches of government working without the judiciary,” he said.

Malual calls on the government to look into the situation of the judges so that the judiciary can operate normally.

He said by downplaying the requests of the judges to remove the chief justice, it means the judiciary is not independent.

“If majority of the judges want the chief justice removed, the president should respond to the call in order for all citizens to access justice,” said Malual.

The activist noted that there is also a need to increase the salaries of the judges to prevent possible corruption in the judiciary due to low salaries.

When announcing the strike, the judges said junior judges in the judiciary get paid 4,000 pounds, about 35 dollars while the Chief Justice’s salary is an equivalent of 600 US dollars at current rate.

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