A call to Abolish Sha’ria Law in South Sudan: GOSS must take a Lead
By Sabrino Majok Majok*
On Sunday, October 8, Khartoum Monitor carried an article entitled, “Juba Court Violated Women’s Rights.” The writer informed her audiences that Madam Awut Deng Achuil, the GOSS Presidential advisor on gener issues and Human rights, was denied to testify in court because a presiding judge refused upon determining that Awut was a woman. The judge’s decision was based on a strict Islamic Sha’ria Law that equates two women to one man. Puzzling?
When I first saw the word “Juba” in the title, I assumed that the stubbornly wicked genocidaires in Khartoum have named after our historic Juba another place somewhere in the North. Alas! I was wrong. The writer meant the same Juba which is the seat of GOSS.
It’s worth mentioning that CPA, INC, and ICSS give GOSS full authority over all areas of South Sudan as they stood on January 1, 1956. When it comes to section of religion in Southern Sudan, ICSS sub-paragraph 8(1) states, “In South Sudan, religion and state shall be separated,” 8(2) says, “All religion shall be treated equally and no religion shall be declared the official religion of South Sudan; religion or religious beliefs shall not be used for divisive purposes.” Bill of rights of women in the same document 20(1) states, “Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men.”
Frankly speaking, there is nowhere in ICSS where Sha’ria is cited as one of the sources of legislation (ICSS, 5(a-e)).
So where is “two women are equal one man” coming from? Precisely nowhere! If anything, maybe NCP is abusing GOSS perceived ignorant about laws and their interpretations. Otherwise, something is wrong in South Sudan and definitely with GOSS!
Indeed, Awut’s experience is not the first time in which Islamic Judges in South Sudan treated our mothers and sisters as insignificantly less than men, nor would it be the last. For example, before the issue of Madam Awut’s unfortunate experience could escape people’s memories, another Southern Sudanese woman, Madam Margaret Peter (not her real name) bitterly reported to members of Sudanese discussion forum, on Wednesday, October 11, 2006, that she was also treated in the same way as Awut few days earlier.
Unlike Madam Awut who acquiesced to judge’s ruling, however, inquisitive Margaret was able to find out why she was refused to testify. In her words, court authorities told her that “according to Sha’ria Laws two women equal one man.” As such, she was sarcastically and humiliatingly told to bring a second woman or better yet a male figure to testify on her behalf to lend “credibility” to testimony. Unsatisfied Margaret protested, “Not after 21 years of fighting, loss of over two million lives and [after] the CPA!”
After bitter exchanges between court authorities and helpless Margaret, couple with her persistence and determination, she was able to get to the heart of the problem: she was bluntly told that things will not change soon “[unless] GoSS is ready to reform and create radical changes in our legal system.” This is unbelievably outrageous because people of South Sudan have patiently waited since the signing of CPA for better services, including legal protections and rights, only to be commanded twenty-one months later to wait while in shackles.
Yes, in South Sudan to day every NCP appointed judge tells our sisters and mothers that two of them equal one man, regardless of latter’s social, educational or mental incapacity
Awut’s and Margaret’s cases are eye opener, thanks to a lawyer who summoned H.E Awut to testify without whom some of us who live afar or those who live in the country and haven’t yet gotten their personal lessons as far as South Sudan legal system is concerned wouldn’t have known that Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and Interim Constitution of South Sudan (ICSS) are being violated daily and risk abrogation. Accordingly, GOSS Chief Justice and Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development, Justices Ambrose Riiny Thiik and Michael Makuei Lueth, respectively, owe us an explanation. They should not sit back and hope that it’s business as usual. Instead, they ought to embark on verification of NCP appointees’ credentials so as to ascertain their authenticities and legal worthiness. It’s my hunch that some of these judges in the South haven’t even gone to law schools, let alone becoming judges. And I won’t be surprise if these judges, who still apply outdated legal system in the South Sudan, are stubbornly wicked souls or Taliban-like illiterate Imams. If proven so, they must be removed immediately because secular courts are not institutions for imams or Mujahdeen. But GOSS must take a lead to make sure that Islamic Sha’ria Law is abolished in South Sudan once and for all.
*Sabrino Majok Majok is a Sudanese; reach him via [email protected]