South Sudan Chief Justice and his Daughter practices targeted judicial sentencing in the South Sudan Judicial System

Opinion,

By Gong John,

South Sudan's Chief Justice Chaan Reec Madut (File photo)

South Sudan’s Chief Justice Chaan Reec Madut (File photo)

August 2, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan chief justice has been recently caught directing the judge to sentence the journalist who has the case with the minister of finance and economic planning. This happened in the muduria court after the Minister of Finance and economic planning sealed a deal with South Sudan chief justice to wrongly convict Zechariah Makuach Maror, a journalist who exposed the corruption practices in the ministry of finance and Economic planning. Earlier this year, Zechariah Makuach was arrested for writing a dissertation on the factors under-gearing the illegal removal of former head of South Sudan Revenue Authority Dr. Olympio Attipoe by the minister of finance and Economic Planning. The article titled “Dr. Olympio Attipoe, the Victims of Fighting Tamed Corruption in South Sudan” prompted the minister of finance to compile the lawsuit against the reporter of the local newspaper based in Juba despite the media authority act that protected all the journalists from criminal lawsuit. 

According to the report by eyewitness, the minister of finance and economic planning Hon. Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, met with Chief Justice, Chan Reech Madut on numerous occasions in regard to his case with Zechariah Makuach which is in front of chief justice’s daughter (judge Achok). According to the staff in the judiciary who requested anonymity, the minister has reached to the conclusion with chief justice that Zechariah Makuach must be convicted.

“ The breakthrough was reached on Thursday 11, June 2020 when the minister paid a mid day visit to Chief Justice in his office, the duo agreed that Makuach must be convicted,” judiciary staff said on condition of anonymity.

“On Friday 12, june, the chief justice order his daughter to review the case’s file of minister of finance with Zechariah Makuach and convict Zechariah Makuach whether he is guilty or not,” he added

 As such Issa Muzamil, Zechariah Makuach’s lawyer had earlier submitted preliminary objection that the case is illegal and should be dismissed, base on the law the minister is immune to be sued or sue anyone before the criminal court. The daughter of Chief Justice decided to dismiss Muzamil’s legal objection claiming that she knew laws more than anyone else. Issa on his part challenges the way Achok Chan Reec handling the case. After Chan Reec realized that Muzamil, the president of BAR association who happened to be Zechariah Makuach’s lawyer is an obstacle to the process, he ordered the High Court to announce BAR election that designated Issa Muzamil as BARISTAR null and void. This prompted Muzamil to describe chief Justice and the whole judiciary system as corrupts and need reform.

As now, Issa Muzamil Sebit, the defending lawyer of Zachariah Makuach, has officially withdrawn from the case, citing corruption of the Judge and judicial system, Intimidation from Chief Justice among others in what he termed in his withdrawal letter addressed to Zechariah Makuac as professional reasons.

His withdrawal came one week after the presiding judge, Achok Chan Reech, took a clear direction to side with the complainant, Salvatore Garang Mabior, who happens to have accused Makuach of defamation. Makuach seemed to have been exercising his constitutional rights in which he had written many opinions on issues of corruption, failure of the Finance Minister to pay civil servants and other malpractices in the Ministry of Finance. On 18 May 2020, Issa Muzamil presented a preliminary objection under articles 28.B and 6.13 G of Media Authority Act 2013 a clear ground for dismissal of the case, the above articles stated that,

 “No government official should institute a defamation case against Journalists and members of media houses before any criminal court”. As Zechariah Makuach was working as a reporter of a certain printing press in Juba, he is not an exception to that privilege.

In the countenance of the above articles, the Judge dismissed the objection of the defendant and insisted to frame charges citing below excuses. 

“The media law is inconsistent, it has many errors and President signed it by mistake, so, it violates our constitution and I dispute the existence of media law, our constitution up to now doesn’t define a Journalist, the litigation of defamation remain a crime under the penal code act 2008, and I therefore, framed charges against Zachariah Makuach Maror for defamation on this criminal court,” the daughter of Chief Justice concluded. 

With this and many other intimidations from Chief Justice’s office, Lawyer Issa Muzamil declared his withdrawal in any case before Achok Chan Reech, a daughter of Chief Justice saying that Chan Reec and his daughter has deformed Justice System and calling for reform. 

“Am withdrawing from Zechariah Makuach’s case, I have serious problems with the judiciary and especially with the chief justice with regard to affairs of the Bar Association and am calling for reform, I advise Zechariah to look for another Lawyer” Issa stated.

According to eyewitnesses who had been attending the court hearings, they said, Zechariah Makuach has submitted many evidences of corruption that are happening in ministry of finance and economics planning but Achok Chan has turned down the document saying they are irrelevant right away before Salvatore’s lawyer made an objection. The documents include but not limited to the paper of 30 million allocated for the burial of minister’s son who had committed suicide some few months ago. Another source said Achok Chan Reech is an intimate friend to Nyibol Salvatore Garang Mabiordit whose minister approved 300,000 USD for her wedding which was conducted in Kuajok and finalized in Freedom Hall last year. 

Achok at the same time runs the same company with Nyibol Salvatore Garang and thus, the fade of Zachariah before Achok’s court remains clear since the controversial Judge disputes the presented evidence and existence of Media Law. 

Achok Chan Reech is the first-born of Chan Reech Madut, she was appointed in 2013 as a first-class Judge two years after her graduation from university. Her promotion and a subsequent appointment were highly protested nationwide by a group of Lawyers and judges who believe Achok to have not qualified for promotion and appointment since she was just a fresh graduate and hadn’t undergone procedural training. Despite the outcry of the legal practitioners, her father (Chief Justice) refused to listen to the complaints of Senior Judges and Lawyers globally. These prompted many senior judges who had served for so long and expected promotion to resign in 2013 predicting the failure of the judicial system in the nearest future. Now, their prophecy has come to light, our daughter of Justice chan Reech has become the pawn of a deforming justice system in South Sudan. Recently, the East African Court of Justice has ruled against the decision of the South Sudan judicial system to dismiss the senior judges in 2017. According to the ruling, the former South Sudanese 14  judges dismissed in the judiciary should be reinstated immediately after an East African court ruled President Salva Kiir illegally fired them three years ago.

The author, Gong John, is a former reporter of missionaries radio in Wau, ‘voice of hope radio’, and currently working as community media consultant. For more information, he can be reached through his email at gongjohn8@gmail.com


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