Mobile court opens in Yambio to handle serious cases

In chains: A suspect accused of theft appears in a Mobile High Court in Yambio

11 Dec 2019

Mobile court opens in Yambio to handle serious cases

Phillip Mbugo

Richard Nimeri has waited patiently for his case to be heard in court.

“I came to the court here because my case has delayed for three years now. If a case delays like this, it brings bad feelings and sometimes the urge to take revenge – which is not good, and cannot bring peace among people,” says Richard on his first day of justice, acknowledging the need to give a chance to the legal justice system.

Richard is one of the beneficiaries of an expedited justice system – a mobile court – which has opened in Yambio, in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria region.

The court will handle serious crimes committed across the area.

 Many, like Richard, have been waiting for up to a year or more due to the absence of high court judges in the area. 

“As a mobile court, we’re focusing on serious cases like rape, murder and theft. And during this one month – which is not enough – we will try to settle many pending cases,” says the presiding judge, Angelo Daniel.

Supported by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the court will hear more than 100 cases by the end of this year.

“Part of UNMISS’ mandate is to see accountability for serious crimes committed against humanity, and UNMISS is committed to bringing access to justice to the people of South Sudan,” says McCall Carter, an UNMISS Rule of Law Officer.

“What UNMISS together with UNDP have been trying to do is to support these kinds of mobile courts, so that they are able to go to places where the justice sector is either missing or needs additional support to be able to ensure access to justice to the most vulnerable people,” she says.

And indeed, the most vulnerable in Yambio are delighted to see exactly that right now.

“When we see judges coming to Yambio we are very happy. They will start their work to handle the cases and bring justice,” says Jean Gibson, a resident of Yambio who has been following the court proceedings.

Justice here is not just for the victims of crime, but for the suspects, too, who have been languishing in jail for years waiting for their fate to be determined.

 “When we visit many inmates in the prison, they are not happy. Some cannot even sleep at night because they don’t know when their case will be solved,” says Ms. Gibson.

The mobile court sessions, which began in the first week of December, will go on in Yambio for a period of one month. Already, the UN-supported mobile courts, which started about a year ago, have delivered justice in other parts of South Sudan where it had been missing, including Bentiu, Malakal, and Rumbek.