Upper Nile law forum meets in Malakal

7 May 2012

Upper Nile law forum meets in Malakal

3 May 2012 - To rehabilitate legal institutions in Upper Nile State, the Rule of Law Forum held its first meeting after a two year hiatus in the capital Malakal.

The government was trying to revive rule of law institutions that had been disrupted by the country's two-decade civil war, Justice Khalid Abdallah, forum chairperson and state Acting Court of Appeals president, told the gathering.

"During the war the law enforcement institutions were destroyed... we are working to rehabilitate these institutions as a government, with support from UNMISS, UNDP (UN Development Programme), and NGOs (non-governmental organizations)."

Also attending the meeting were members of the state judiciary, security organs, government departments, UNMISS and the UNDP human rights and rule of law units, NGOs and community based organizations.

Among its activities, the forum will filter information through the media about the South Sudan Transitional Constitution, human rights and freedoms of citizens; build up rule of law institutions and capacities; and resolve challenges facing rule of law in the state.

A conflict between the governor of Upper Nile State and the judiciary was resolved through the forum's intervention.

Bernard Mugisha, of UNMISS judiciary unit in Malakal, said the forum had made significant changes and improved follow-up mechanisms. Justice Abdallah would assign tasks during the meeting according to institutions involved and follow up on implementation of resolutions.

"We have been able to resolve issues of rape and impunity through the forum," Mr. Mugisha said. "The forum will seek the support from the governor of the state to exercise his authority to end the issue at hand."

Mr. Mugisha believed the forum could change the lives of civilians by acting as a monitoring tool, with UNMISS and UNDP assisting with training to reform rule of law institutions.