14 November 2017

South Sudan Supreme Court Judge Resigns, Cites Lack of Judicial Independence

Photo: Joe Gratz/Flickr

South Sudan Supreme Court judge has resigned citing lack of judicial independence in Africa's youngest nation.

In a letter sent to President Salva Kiir on November 14 2017, a copy of which Daily Monitor has seen, Justice Kukurlopita Marino Pitia said he was resigning Tuesday due to lack of judicial independence, lack of independence of individual judges and justices, security of tenure of the office of the judges and justice, lack of financial independence of the judiciary and poor administration of the judiciary, among others.

"I Kukurlopita Marino Pitia, justice of the Supreme Court of the judiciary of the Republic of South Sudan, resigns from the Supreme Court and the Judiciary of South Sudan effective the date mentioned in accordance with section 62(1) of the Judiciary Act, 2008, Laws of South Sudan," reads part of Justice Kukurlopita's letter.

According to him, the independence of the judiciary in South Sudan has become a mockery and pasquinade over the years.

"The judiciary lacks institutional independence, and the independence of judges and justices in performing their judicial function is interfered with and hence the guarantee of the independence of the judiciary by the Constitution and the law is a fallacy," he adds.

In April this year, Justice Kukurlopita, who was then the President of the Court of Appeal of Greater Equitoria Circuit-Juba, questioned the rationale behind jailing four Kenyans convicted of simple fraud for life.

Justice Kukurlopita was one of the three appellate judges who separately censured their juniors for imposing unreasonably harsh sentence on the accused, Ravi Ghaghda, Anthony Mwadime, Anthony Keya and Boniface Muriuki. The four Kenyans were part of a larger team comprising 12 South Sudanese arrested in connection with alleged fraud in Kiir's office involving fake letters, forged seals and stamps recovered from a Juba-based firm the four worked for.

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