UNMISS promotes access to justice by constructing court facilities in Magwi County

unmiss south sudan eastern equatoria state access to justice quick impact project magwi county court female representation

No more trials will be held under the trees in Magwi County, where UNMISS has funded and handed over a court building. Photos: Moses Yakudu/UNMISS

28 Jul 2022

UNMISS promotes access to justice by constructing court facilities in Magwi County

Moses Yakudu/Filip Andersson

EASTERN EQUATORIA- Access to justice is key in any democracy, and if the infrastructure of said justice is both functional and easy on the eye, so much the better. Following the recent handing over of a modern, spacious court building funded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, residents in Magwi County can enjoy this privilege.

“For decades now, since before I was born, we have never had a good, well-appointed court building, but now justice shall be served and provided here,” said David Ochen Tukwaro, the county’s Executive Director.

The offices, a court hall, separate holding cells for men and women and two toilets of the building make a mockery of earlier trials, held under one or more trees and postponed or cancelled altogether whenever the elements so dictated.

This $50,000 investment is part of the peacekeeping mission’s Quick Impact Projects: low-cost initiatives designed to bring about significant change in local communities.

“We encourage the Ministry of Local Government and partners to use these facilities to ensure access to justice, to protect women and children,” said Caroline Waudo, Head of the peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Eastern Equatoria State. “This project helps in confidence-building, in the search for sustainable peace through creating a favorable environment for the mission’s mandate implementation.”

During the ceremony of handing over the swanky new building, the issue of female representation within the judiciary also came up, as women have traditionally been few and far between among the top seats. Local authorities expressed their interest in making sure that changes take place.

“The State Ministry of Local Government are coming to carry out elections for you to select your chiefs, and strong women of Magwi County must participate for us to achieve a better gender balance,” said Abdallah Hassan, Director-General of the Ministry.

Inspired by the statement of the Director-General, some women in attendance voiced their interest in being represented among the local chiefs.

“I am one of the many capable women of this county, and we will make sure to participate and to stand up to seek justice for vulnerable girls and women,” said Achiro Grace Gildo, a mother in Magwi.

This year, the UN peacekeeping mission’s office in Eastern Equatoria is investing $450,000 in a total of nine community-proposed Quick Impact Projects across the state.