Does the Police has the capacity to take Presidents’ advice to be friendly to people?
By Ateny Wek Ateny
The President Salva Kiir Mayardit in his address to the nation on the wake of the 6th Anniversary of Martyrs Day– one year after independence of South Sudan issued a warning advice to the Police to be friendly to people and not the opposite. I hope the Inspector General of Police had taken heed to this advice, on behalf of the force he is so vicariously libel? Of course, the president was not talking for the sake of talk. He was well-informed about police brutality and unprofessionalism. I hope the president also knew how the police deployed in the streets to keep people-off his motorcade, have been mistreating and humiliating people? I knew the importance of physical security of the president (the one which symbolizes our sovereignty), but a mere passing of the president’s motorcade should not be use as a ploy (by some members of the police who are unaware of their mandate), to harass people. Our organized Forces are too disorganized to professionally deal with public. In South Sudan, the doctrine given to our organized forces during their training might have been wrong – and so it is anticipated the change in the way the armed organized forces deal with unarmed civilians will be ‘exceedingly ludicrous’. The word ‘Mawaten’ literally Arabic for ‘citizen’ is given in the training of our forces to be synonymous with inability to carry rifle. And this is leaving a big gap between our organized forces and the citizen at least for sometimes, until the teaching of this type is discarded. Treatment of citizens in South Sudan, albeit the supreme law of the Land has guaranteed it to be that of equality before the law, its implantation depend on how big or small the citizen may be. Big people are treated better, even if they are wronged, and small are wrong even if he/she had done nothing.
I am glad the president had wanted this type of inequity to be totally disregarded. I hope the president is also willing to regulate the police forces that regulate his motorcade the so called (Traffic Police) – this force is more reckless and unprofessional to the sense of shaming this country. Legally, all motorists owe each other, a duty of care’ – and the president’s motorcade is legally bound to oversee this legal principle. Juba, has fewer roads than is enough for people and the president to part-ways. And whoever is closing roads and start harassing innocents citizens “Mawateneen in military language” when the president has not yet thought to use that road – may be doing disservice to the president. People of South Sudan are in love with their president and the president had no enemy within the ordinary people. The opposite is true. However, the continued harassments against people simply because the president is due to pass by, might have been aimed at making the president to become unpopular as a result. The author had traveled worldwide, but had never witnessed the reckless way the roads are closed and no information or alternative route provided. Sometimes, it may be very unfortunate to see the traffic police weaving you to the direction of Jabal when in fact you wanted to go to Thongpiny. For how long? No answer. We can only guess may be; the president is passing, or his deputy, or the Speaker Wani to say the least. But, it could be anything different from this, but yet no information to be given. Our citizen is tread like a sheep on grazing spree, just for this naïve notion of our security mentality. Motorists are harassed more than pedestrians. Our security are unaware, the most suicide-bombers do not use motor vehicles to avoid being detected. In this, it is unfortunate to note, that the more South Sudan is organizing public events, the more people are harassed. Any person often experiences the brutality and impoliteness of our forces during such events. And so, it has been my prayers the president also takes this into account. Otherwise, there must be issued a decree to prohibit public in attending such gatherings, so that soldiers are not bothered in their own universe.
We also, have another problem – everybody who drives V8 or Hammer is a VIP and therefore must also be given priority to use the road. Like the president motorcades is using high-beam light during the day, all VIP’s cars use the same, even when they lack escort cars. The driver of VIP is also a VIP even when he is alone. Sirens’ noises – you can’t differentiate them, simply because they are many. Even a driver of Police’s car who is off duty may also use siren in an attempt to take priority in using the road. I wish separate roads could be constructed for the police and the army – so as to avoid the death of innocents’ citizens caught-in-between the accidents caused by organized forces’ rivaling motorists. South Sudan is almost becoming a classed-motivated society, - and the class of one given individuals may be determine by the type of car he/she is driving, or how impolite the person may be. In Britain, one of the most known ‘class’s society’ has since introduced new criterion for joining one given class. Depending on the level of your education, to get into middle class is determined by the type of your profession for example. Doctors, Judges, lawyers, nurses or social workers automatically qualify to be included into middle class. Depending on the school you have gone to, the language spoken by the people from the upper, middle and working classes could be obvious. The properly educated in proper schools, can be more polite and euphemistic in their choice of words, while the poor who did not afford going to the best school often become intolerance. In South Sudan the wealthy often become aggressive and too indolent to want to be patient for others. This itself requires something more than disciplining of the police – since society itself is moving towards becoming intolerance and therefore, susceptible to increase violence.
Finally, with our president becoming concern about how citizens being mistreated by the forces supposedly empowered by the constitution to guard the very people they are mistreating, it is high time the president also consider the way some members of our organized forces wants his motorcade to look internationally. South Sudan came the long way, and it is time to prosper as opposed to becoming the laughing stock of the 21st Century’s world (the police state). We all know, some people had since enriched themselves, we knew the police’s culture needed to change, the army also should see the functions of other organized armed forces’ and the fact that the army see itself as the ‘men/women of 1st grade, then the police, then the prison, the fire Brigade, then the wildlife, -every force as a function recognized by law, the people should also strive get enlighten in order to ascertain their rights to demand them. It is not the police having the long hands (to borrow the president’s word) alone, that is bothering the average person. Selfishness, peer pressure, are the mother of corruption. The police’s ineffectiveness to render professional policing is deep-rooted in these attitudes. The lack of regulatory mechanism in South Sudan is partly to blame. The law had said it all, but people who implement the law also need to be reminded of the fact that, they are not immune to legal procedures. So, I thank the president for having rebuke those individuals with the armed organized forces who take the superiority of guns and do little in adhering to the rule of law is paramount.
The author is a Member of National Constitutional Review Commission, representing Civil Society Alliance,