Juba, South Sudan - 30 January 2012 - the Judiciary of South Sudan (JoSS) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) launched a four-week training course on substantive law and legal English for 25 County Court and High Court Judges from South Sudan’s Greater Bahr el-Ghazal, Greater Upper Nile, and Greater Equatoria Appellate Circuits.
"IDLO has become our important partner, which is doing an excellent job of helping us to build capacity here in South Sudan internally," said Justice James Alala of the Rumbek Court of Appeal, who is coordinating the training on behalf of the Judiciary.
Supported by the Netherlands, the European Union, and the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the training program covers criminal law, human rights, South Sudanese customary law, English-language, and legal English. The training also includes instruction on the use of a new Criminal Procedure Benchbook produced by IDLO and the Supreme Court of South Sudan.
A panel of Justices from the South Sudan Supreme Court opened the training at the Hamza Inn in Juba on 30 January 2012. In his inaugural remarks, the Hon. Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut expressed his appreciation for the continuous support IDLO and donors have provided for judicial capacity building in South Sudan. He equated the relationship between the JoSS, IDLO, and the donors to that of friends, saying, “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. The Hon. Chief Justice closed his remarks by calling on IDLO and the donors to continue their support and ensure that this is an ongoing process of trainings.
In his own remarks to the assembly, the Hon. Justice John Wuol Makec, the former Chief Justice of the South Sudan Supreme Court and the customary law trainer for the course, reflected on the origins of the current training program. He recalled that, after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, South Sudanese judges were sent abroad for training but that it was quickly determined that the judiciary should “train ourselves within South Sudan rather than go abroad”. IDLO has supported this goal since 2009, organizing training for judges in South Sudan and assisting the JoSS to establish a Judicial Training Unit.
Scheduled to end on 24 February 2012, the training has received a very positive response from participants. Dr. Geri Raimondo LoBate, President of the High Court, Lakes State, for example, told IDLO that the "Customary law classes were wonderful because the instructor (Hon. Justice John Wuol Makec) has expertise in this field and also he was a practicing Judge specialized in Customary Law" and that "the English language instructor has taken personal initiative to encourage interaction and participation" among the judges.
The current training will be repeated for two additional groups of 25 judges during the first half of 2012. This activity forms part of IDLO’s Project “Capacity Building for the Judiciary of Southern Sudan” and follows earlier training on civil and criminal procedure and rules of evidence for all County Court and High Court Judges in South Sudan. Initiated in 2009, IDLO’s “Capacity Building for the Judiciary of Southern Sudan” Project is funded by contributions from the Netherlands, the European Union, INL, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and aims to improve justice in South Sudan by increasing judicial capacity to safeguard procedural legal rights, implement substantive laws and articulate judicial reasoning at the High Court and County Court levels.