March 2, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s chief justice, Chan Reec Madut, has been forced to deny nepotism in his decision to appointment of one of his daughters as a legal assistant. The appointment has drawn strong public criticism in South Sudan where unemployment, nepotism and corruption are rife.
- South Sudan’s chief justice, Chan Reec Madut (AP)
In the eight years since South Sudan gained self-rule, the ministry of justice has not prosecuted a single official for corruption despite billions of dollars going missing. The revelation about Justice Madut’s daughter has reinforced the perception among many South Sudanese that the government is both corrupt and nepotistic.
Achok Chan Reec, a daughter of the chief Justice Chan Reec Madut, is among the 78 legal assistants appointed on 26 February but whose official appointment comes into effect on the 1st March.
Sudan Tribune understands that there have been attempts at a family level to persuade her decline the appointment in order to avoid public indignation and claims of nepotism, which is already perceived as rampant in government institutions in South Sudan.
Ms Reec did not responsd to calls on Friday and none of her siblings have come forward to comment. Officials at the judiciary have also avoided commenting on the issue. Neither the deputy chief justice nor aides responded to requests for comment on Friday afternoon.
Some South Sudanese see the appointment is seen an attempts by the government to tighten its control of state institutions through employing close relatives.
However, Justice Madut vehemently denied charges of nepotism, maintaining all appointments were made on the basis of qualifications.
“There is nothing wrong in the appointment. It is constitutional. Any citizen of South Sudan can be appointed regardless of whether they have family in the government or not. They are citizens. This is their right”, Madut told Sudan Tribune.
Justice Madur said that provisions in the 2008 judiciary act as the basis of appointing legal assistants. However, the provision, which some of the judges say does not include clear criteria for appointment of judicial officers.
The judicial order for appointing the judicial assistance, which Sudan Tribune has seen, says:
“Pursuant to the powers conferred upon me under section 26(1) of the Judiciary Act, 2008, I Chan Reec Madut, Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court do hereby appoint the people list below as Legal Assistants with effect from 1st March, 2013. The appointee shall remain under probation for eighteen (18) month with effect from the date of their appointment as provided under section 26(2) (a) and section 26(3) (b) of the Judiciary Act, 2008”.
The order gives appointees a probationary period of 18 months before being considered for permanent service in the Judiciary of South Sudan (JOSS) in accordance with provisions of section 26(4) of the Judiciary Act, 2008.
Justin Deng Mawien, who is a native of Warrap state, studied law at Nileen University in Khartoum, Sudan. He came to South Sudan after he graduated in 2004 but has not managed to get a permanent job since leaving university. The law graduate told Sudan Tribune he was surprised by the appointment of the daughter of the chief justice as a legal assistant. He said:
“How can he do that? This is a clear act of nepotism. Such practice is itself a corruption. We are done. The government should simply declare South Sudan a corrupt state and dissolve the so called anti corruption if the chief justice without fear can approve appointment of his daughter, while millions of our citizens including myself are jobless. Just tell me what does this mean to you people in the media. To me it is pure corruption and nothing more”.
“I couldn’t believe Justice Chan would do that when I saw the name of his daughter on the list of those he appointed. If you have looked at the list you will find number 28 is his daughter. I know her myself. They were at Juba University when I was at Nileen University. They were by far behind me. I finished high school when they were still in Primary. I finished university when some of his children were sitting Sudan school certificate. I have not gotten permanent job until now because of the claims of lack of jobs. Where did these jobs in which they are employing their own children comes”.
Sabit Alfred, a resident of Juba who did not want to mention where he works told Sudan Tribune on Friday:
"The general concern is about what they are doing. The behaviours of some of our leaders as you know have reached uncontrolled level. They no longer listen to people. What is alarming is the way they are putting in place so many of their family members into all kinds of positions of state authority, so much so that if they lose power, they will still control much of the institutions in the top civil positions."