By Gabrial Pager Ajang
April 14, 2014 (SSNA) -- Systematic social-economic and political moral philosophy of humanity is deeply rooted in the concepts of justice. The judicial concept of justice is only construed in a logical manner. It is in this context that the people of South Sudan with their president can view Supreme Court as an important component of delivering peace, justice and reconciliations to corners of South Sudan. Known generals in the SPLA, and rebels led by Dr. Riek Machar have committed crimes against humanity, some form of ethnic cleansing in Baliet for example, and massacre in Juba, Bor Town, Bentiu, and Malakal. Crimes at such magnitude can only be remedied with proper deliverance of justice. It is only then, can the government repairs and restores harmonious relationship among warring parties and tribes. The trial of the four political detainees is small part of sequential political settlement of the conflict and deliverance of justice. Therefore, it is vitally important for our president to avoid looming judicial miscarriage. It is inherently unjust to falsely prosecute innocent people, while criminals are continuing with their rampages in the key states of South Sudan.
Since the tragic incident of December 15th, 2013, the Western and some of IGAD leaders have been steadfast and persistent in their call for the release of the four political prisoners. Concern South Sudanese citizens have added their voices in these calls. Before investigations begun into the attempted coup allegations, senior officials in the government of South Sudan have reiterated and affirmed that Dr. majak D’ Agoot, Oyai Deng Ajak, Pagan Amum Okiech, and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth are criminals and will be charged for treason. These officials have put themselves in awkward and odd positions by simply declaring political detainees as criminals before investigation and trial. We, citizens have been told that all the political detainees are guilty till proven innocence. This is either lack of legal knowledge, or they are trying to appease presidential advisors (Telar Ring or interior minister, Aleu Ayieny) or serous judicial miscarriage is occurring. These political detainees have been done a great harm and irreparable injustice. Their careers have been harmed, their families have been harmed, their reputations have been badly harmed and South Sudan image has been badly damaged, and the worst of all thousand South Sudanese people have perished in this senseless war. As the investigation continues into the allege coup allegations, the government officials continue to violate judicial orders or legal protocol of criminals’ prosecution. These officials have forgotten that detainees are “suspects” till proven guilty in court of law.
Besides, these political detainees were collected from their houses as suspects, and their guards did not participate in the fighting that took place in Juba. Evidently, the government took wrong judicial order of proper investigating crimes and embarked on misinforming citizens and world that political detainees mastermind coup. It was televised in South Sudan, and Eastern African countries that the “flag” that had indigenous European cow was solely evident that links political detainees with coup d’état in Juba. This flag that had European cow made it clear than ever before that the arrest of the 11 political detainees was caused by the political disagreement or political among members of the SPLM and not a military coup.
Subsequently, the minister for justice completed the investigation of the detainees on January 28th, 2014 and submitted the report to” the president for consideration” (Sudan tribune, 2014). The fact that the investigation was completed and submitted to president for consideration instead of Special Court breaches judicial impartiality and violated South Sudan’s constitution. In addition to the Minster for information who informed public that “the people we have in jail were not political detainees or suspects, they are criminals.” And odd enough, President Press Secretary, Ateny Wak took tour in East African primary to convince leaders of IGAD that the detainees master minded coup d’état. These episodes are bizarre South Sudan foreign policy that earns the government empty support.
Yet, the war that broke out on December 15th, 2013 sap life of out of South Sudanese, and brought the country nearly to its knees. Today, there are no compelling evidences that indicate coup was plotted. However, there are many hypotheses that transpire to December 15th tragedy. Some people have claimed that fighting in Juba might have been triggered by fear or poor judgment. Some people said that fighting might have been started by disagreements among guards of president Kiir, Pualino Matip, and Dr. Riek Machar. There are many hypotheses that tend to narrate the beginning of the fighting in Juba. However, professionals will assess and analyze to find the truth in coming years. We know two crime scenes; Giada and Bilpham. And until today, the military generals that head TIGER DIVISION have not been investigated. Who fired the first bullet and why? The crust of this investigation was missed at the initial. Majority citizens and world leaders would like to be informed about investigation conducted at the crime scenes, separate from the political detainees’ investigation.
It is even odd or not normal for fighters to fight for four days in the capitol city without ranking officers (or an individual with military ranks giving them directions. The government own investigation fails identify individual with ranks leading rebel fighters. The Deputy Chief of South Sudan’s military intelligence, Mac Pau testified in Special Court, and said that there is nothing that links political detainees with coup d’état that almost overthrow democratic elected government of South Sudan. Telling the truth is not easy but he told the truth. He is a military general who had great deal of moral ethic and integrity. Mac Paul has preserved our endearing values, norms and tradition South Sudanese community. Besides, he came from a community were lying is impermissible.
Political and legal Ramification of mysterious Juba’s tragedy continues to haunt South Sudanese in South Sudan and around the globe. The South Sudan constitution grants member of Legislative Assembly abilities to investigate ministers into crimes link to executive branch or at least exercising their legislative oversight over the cabinet. However, the legislature aborts its legislative powers and allies itself with executive for reasons not known to public. However, the prosecutor refuses to scrutinize generals leading security and presidential guards, who else will know what caused fighting or violence in the presidential guard? It vitally important that the government managed to arrest soldiers who killed innocent people in Juba but it remains a mystery not knowing who initiated fighting in the military headquarter in Juba.
The prosecutor that carried interrogations into alleges attempted coup in Juba on December 15th, 2013, came up with the following charges against detainees;
1. Incitement of the masses
2. Causing disaffection among police or defense forces
3. Defaming the government of South Sudan
4. Undermining the authority of or insulting the president
5. Audio tape of conversations between Oyai Deng Ajak and Taban Deng Gai
The above points are normal part of democracy. Politicians disagreed over the way forward. The violence seems to stem from political fear or political disagreement, and exacerbated by the last cabinet reshuffles. The long brewing political volcano erupted instantaneously rage in three key states because there were conditions and situations that exacerbated conflict. These incidences affirmed that our country is fragile. We just emerged from wreckage of wars fought for six decades. The environment and climate of South Sudan is ethnically tense and political charged. Opportunists like Dr. Riek Machar took advantage of such mild situations and killed thousands innocent people. The International community and government must pursue leaders that have committed crimes in Juba and Great Upper Nile and bring them to justice.
Like all the victims and survivors of the Bor Massacre of 1991, and recent mayhem of 2013-2014 in the Greater Upper Nile region, the raw and bitter memories war have come back in full swing by the Mayhem in Juba, Bor Town, Malaka, and Bentiu. I am also mindful that there no amount of justice will ever ease our pains of 1991 Bor Massacre when our people were mercilessly murdered; the year they were robbed of their wealth passed on from generations to generations and everything they had clung to since time immemorial was turned upside down. The magnitude of loss could not be compared to what happened in 1991 when thousands of defenseless women, children, disabled and elderly from Bor were maimed and left to wallow in destitution. The land that once breathed life and rich heritage became a playground where wild animals and birds like vultures could take turns to feast on dead bodies like never before seen. Images of dead people at the hospitals in Bor and Malakal indicate the horror and inhumane crimes committed. The justice must be first ensure for the victims of Bor, Malakal, and Bentiu must get reparations, or be allowed restitution, repayment for pain/suffering/punitive damages and the recognition by the perpetrators or the government of South Sudan, IGAD, and International Community that crimes were committed. It is the victims at their own personal volition that should be allowed to bring charges against rebels and government leaders.
Therefore, case of political detainees is a small component of addressing the whole conflict and ensuring deliverance of justice in South Sudan. This special Supreme Court trying political detainees can exclusively use its enumerated judicial powers of justiciability to exclude this case of political prisoners from judicial consideration, because this case lacks concrete and compelling evidences. There is not single evidence that indicates political detainees, their guards or soldiers participated in fighting in Juba last December.
Hence, this case of political detainees warrants judicial requirements application. This special court has jurisdiction to trash or throw away such case that is not justifiable, it only embodies political questions. Judicial impartiality demands that court judges and justices do not hear cases or matters that involve political questions. Political coup is dismissible in the court but military coup is permissible for trial. There are more impending evidences that suggests this case against four political detainees is exacerbated by political disagreement among members of SPLM party than a military coup. Instead of allowing their big egos, greed, and deep seated hatred to divide them, they should seek to unite their members and hence unite the country. However, there are members that claimed the ownership of the country’s leadership, and these members want nothing more than just to obliterating political detainees’ career or see them hang. Any case that involves political motivation or political disagreement is dismissed by the court it does not matter whether it is against members of your own party or opposition. Treason charges of this case are difficult to construct and link them to political detainees. The fives charges leveled against them are irrelevant; I wonder whether judge and prosecutor understand prosecutable charges for treason. If there is no that links coup with political detainees, there is no case. The prosecutor that constructs coup evidences lack sufficient hard evidences of coup d’état or compelling evidences that implicated political detainees in allege coup. Coup is heavy in evidences. Government cannot indict detainees with arguments premise on empty rhetoric.
Such case warrants judicial restraint or dismissal in order to preserve judicial independence. This act could mount to judicial miscarriage and injustice to South Sudan’s justice system if the judge and prosecutor insist to satisfy government’s position on the allege coup d’état allegations. This case could even hinder the upcoming sequential political settlement of conflict. It is significance for this court to do the right thing now in order to secure peacemaking in coming few months. The fundamental problems of South Sudan are leaders. Citizens must be made aware of their problems. South Sudanese citizens know your advisors that work day and night to manufacture problems that claim thousand lives. It is time Mr. President to get rid of people who have been giving wrong advices that divide your government.
In conclusion, the people of South Sudan have endured nerve wrecking hardship in wars, we have wept, mourned and rise up together hopping that better days are head. I urge the people of South Sudan to compromise, forgive, and seek for clear and HONEST reconciliations and JUSTICE. We must forgive one another because our tribes never abhorrence each other; it is political leaders that caused conflict for their political gains, AND they must be brought to justice. Good people of South Sudan, Kiir-Riek led government had mismanaged our resources and we remained silence, senior officials had built their houses and mansions, and we remain silence. They have bought their cars, and built hotels, and we remain silence. Now, they have caused conflict, and they are killing people, and we remained. The whole epic and chronicles of Kiir and Riek must stop. We must now to kill people and destroyed our resources. The future of South Sudan lies on its resources. Rebels had destroyed oil refinery worth billion U.S dollars outside Bentiu. There are no reasons that justify such destruction, Kiir and Riek will soon die and the country will remain for next generation. Let all stop violence in all forms and call for peace; it is our utmost responsibility to pave ways for peace and conflict management, and initiate peace-building programs/projects. It is significant for our generation to pioneer capacity building programs, encourage justice for victims, and use groundbreaking programs to establish long relations among warring tribes. We must lift up to highest moral obligation and human dignity to bring peace and justice to South Sudan. Let us all hold leaders that were implicated in this war crime accountable and free the innocent, for the simple fact free political detainee is an important part of peace, healing and reconciliations.
The author teaches political Science and History at Career College, former Nebraska legislative assistance and passionate advocates of responsive government that observes rules of laws, and guarantees citizens protection; as an important principle of democratic government. Besides, he is specialized in Public administrations and policy. He can be reached at