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Justice Minister reinforces secular nature of South Sudan

September 5, 2011 (JUBA)- The Government South Sudan (GoSS) on Monday reiterated its commitment to being a secular state and called for unity among different religious groups.

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Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, John Luk Jok (Sudan Vote)

Minister of justice, John Luk Jok told members of the religious groups on Monday that GoSS and its partners were working to make the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan “available to the general public”.

Jok, addressing employees of the ministry of justice celebrating his appointment and return to the ministry, said the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan separated religion from politics.

“Article 8 (1) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan states clearly that religion and state shall be separate. This has been elaborated in paragraph two of the same article eight that all religion shall be treated equally and religion or religious beliefs shall be used for divisive purposes. I am saying this from the bottom of my heart; the government has this stand because it acknowledges the position and importance of religions in contributing to the development of the country," explained Jok. 

He added that article 23 of the constitution allows for right to worship or assemble in connection with any religion or belief and establish and maintain places of worship and that the government will extend any assistance to religions that request it, without prejudice.

He urged Christians and Muslims in the new country to coexist peacefully and to forward their concerns to the relevant institutions of the government for immediate attention, noting that his government was ready to work with them to ensure better living standards for the people.

Jok also stressed that the judicial system will establish courts run by judges from different religious backgrounds including Muslims, but that “all criminal and civil cases will be handled by the ordinary court and it will have no mandate to institute Islamic or any other religious law."

He explained that the Law Review Commission would be formed to help advise on legal matters which require review by the government.