UNMISS holds workshop on traditional and formal law in Bor

13 May 2013

UNMISS holds workshop on traditional and formal law in Bor

10 May 2013 - Rule of law was vital in building a legislative framework to tackle root causes of conflict and strengthen peace, an UNMISS official said in the Jonglei State capital Bor today.

Speaking at a workshop on traditional and formal legal systems, UNMISS Legal Affairs Officer Elizabeth Bakibinga said a new country like South Sudan had limited formal systems, which meant many cases must be resolved through chiefs' courts.

"Conflict resolution is through customary mediation, compensation and restitution. You find that during conflict resolution, mediation by elders requires the consent of parties, not compulsion (enforced decisions)," said Ms. Bakibinga.

The Transitional Constitution recognized the co-existence of traditional authorities and their courts with the formal justice system, said Daniel Deng, head of legal administration in Jonglei.

He added that traditional authority could be modified to harmonize with the formal justice system.

"(Both the) Local Government Act and the Judiciary Act... state that judiciary powers are derived from the people," Mr. Deng said, making it necessary for the two systems to work together.

Peter Gayer, a lawyer from the Nuer tribe said some rigid cultural practices should be adjusted. In his tribe, for example, more cows were paid as compensation for a man killed in conflict than for a woman who died in the same battle.

Some 30 participants, including traditional leaders, local government officials, members of Jonglei State Legal Administration Unit, lawyers, police and fire brigade representatives attended the workshop.

UNMISS officials also briefed participants on the role of the mission in consolidating peace and security, as well as protecting civilians.