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The mess that is Bor High Court.

The court is hyena's court for goats to foreigners By Deng Duot June 22, 2009 -- South Sudan is currently undergoing rapid social, political and economic transformation and development, having been at war- perhaps Africa's longest civil war- for the better part of independence period. These processes are geared towards modernizing our society so as to match international standards and also to be at par with other developing countries. But the way some things are done in some of our administrative system, leaves a lot to be desired. This is in direct reference to the way things happen in High Court in Bor. There are certain court rulings, among others, and especially involving foreigners, which surprises even the laymen in the legal profession. Foreigners working or running businesses in this historical town where the liberation struggle was started are not a happy lot. Quite often than rare, they find themselves arraigned in court over cooked up claims aimed to benefit the locals. Through the support of this court, the locals have formed a habit of laying false accusation against foreigners for the purpose of monetary gains. This cartel starts at the police station and ends at the court where they (the locals) are rewarded handsomely at the expense of the foreigners. And there is no doubt that no foreigner gets justice in the Bor High Court against a local and this is an impediment to our development and civilization and must be urgently addressed by the relevant authorities. The independence of the judiciary does not mean that justice only applies to the locals and the foreigners are second-class people in our midst. It does not mean that correcting this embarrassing mess is tantamount to interference with its independence, but if this is what some people want us to believe, then SPLM, the mother of our liberty must review its policy on foreigners. This unfair treatment starts at the police station. When one is arrested and taken to the station, the police there will invariably ask for one's nationality. Upon establishing your nationality, they then unashamedly remind foreigners that this is not their country as if citizens of these two countries are not entitled to justice in our country. The police department is the bedrock of corruption in this town and the officers are fleecing foreigners of a lot of money just because of their status as foreigners. From the police station, the foreigner is taken to the High Court to face an even harsher experience than it is at the police station. These few examples, among others will suffice to prove how rotten and corrupt the High Court in Bor is; Case One: File No. unavailable A Ugandan operating a phone charging business was arrested by police in October after one of his clients mistakenly took a phone belonging to another client. When the owner of the phone came to collect his phone, it was a problem and the whole issue ended at the police station. At the station the trader offered to trace the man who took the phone, which he actually did and took the Sudanese and the police to the man. After doing that, he thought the problem had been solved, only for the Sudanese to report back to the police claiming that he wanted the Ugandan to pay him back his phone. When this man mentioned about the man he had taken this Sudanese to, neither phone owner nor the police wanted to hear that. Instead, the phone owner demanded SDG 700 if the Ugandan wanted to be released from police custody. That was at around By the afternoon, the figure had ridiculously escalated to SDG1000. The Ugandan spent two nights in the police custody as his relatives and friends tried to raise that amount to secure his release. When they appeared with the money, it had now handsomely risen to SDG 1200. Disgusted by the whole episode, the Ugandan decided to seek justice in the High Court. But little did know that he was headed to the worst and that being a foreigner, the word justice was as well foreign here. And true to this, the Court verdict was just that, a fine of SDG 1200 and suit charges of SDG 100 or one month in prison. One is left wondering what justice actually is if a judge passes such a verdict without mentioning the merit of the plaintiff's case. Case Two: File No. unavailable A foreigner working with an international non-governmental organization hired a motorbike so as to catch up with a meeting in Bor Town. As a common knowledge with these riders anywhere even in Juba, they are fast and reckless because most of them are young boys and very excited for nothing. And as a result of this, motorbike was involved in an accident and rolled before reaching their destination. They sustained injuries. When the rider regained his senses, he demanded compensation for his motorbike, his reason: he had previous carried many people but never been involved in an accident. Why was it that the accident occurs when he carries this man? The passenger saw this as ridiculous and remained adamant as the boy demanded SDG 1400 plus SDG 3 being the fare charged. Realizing that the passenger was not about to budge, he took the issue to the police where the police confirmed the boys claims as genuine. And to the surprise of everyone, when the matter was taken to the High Court of Sudan in Bor, and according to the laws of Sudan, the passenger, being a foreigner had no choice but to pay just that. The price of being a foreigner in Bor! Case Three: File No. 17/7/2008 A Kenyan lady was employed by a local Sudanese businessman for six months in a small pharmacy-cum-clinic in Bor. Infact they were two, both foreigners with one working as lab technician. During this period, paying these ladies' salaries was a problem in spite of booming business as a result of good work done by these Kenyan ladies and in particular, the nurse. As if that was not bad enough, he reneged on the salary agreement he had made with this lady and even went further to reduce her salary, according to the evidence adduced in Court and documents presented thereof. Out of frustration, the nurse resigned and immediately landed a job in a new pharmacy started by another Sudanese, a move that seriously affected the previous employer's business. Out of anger and business jealousy, he claimed that the lady had stolen drugs from his clinic, bribed the police who promptly arrested the lady. But in the actual sense she purchased some drugs worth SDG 600 from that clinic because her former employer used to sell drugs on wholesale. And since she had officially resigned and did not have problem there, she decided to go and buy some drugs worth SDG 600 which were missing in her new place of work. The lady's boss, being aware of foreigners' treatment in the hands of our police and injustice in our corridors of justice, decided that the matter be solved out of court. It was then agreed that the man takes all what he claimed was his and in a fit of anger, he took advantage of this to loot this pharmacy by taking four times what his claims was. That was in April when this man took drugs worth over SDG 3000. This paralyzing action prompted the new employer to order for a new consignment of drugs from Uganda which was delivered in early June. On learning that there was a new consignment of drugs, he rushed again to the police and bribed one (name withheld), according to evidence before Court for strategy on how to loot again. Since the issue was solved out of court with no written settlement, he took advantage of this to now seek legal settlement. This policeman accompanied him to this lady's workplace and arrested her. They colluded with police and wrote an incredible list of drugs worth SDG 12,060 which he again claimed the lady had stolen, a consignment worth that amount can only fit one full container. When the case was taken before the First Class Magistrate, he failed to be convinced with the evidence given and read mischief and malice in the suit and thus, dismissed it with costs. Dissatisfied, the complainant appealed against the ruling in the High Court. All his witnesses were his brothers and a cousin. To ensure that he won the case, one of his cousins who was a colleague to this lady in her former employment and had offered to be her witness, was threatened with severe consequences if he dared appear as a witness in favour of this lady, and so never appeared. Their fear was that this man's evidence would expose their dirty tricks against this Kenyan lady to the point that they would not succeed in their plan. And even his (complainant) cousin who chaired the meeting which resolved the issue never appeared to give evidence. All these notwithstanding, the plaintiff gave circumstantial and documentary evidence to prove his innocence against malicious, jealous and ridiculous accusation, a Honourable Judge of the High Court ignored all the merits and ethics of the legal profession and danced to the tune of corruption and discrimination in the judicial system to unfairly punish this lady. Verdict! She was found guilty to the charge and sentenced to prison for three months or a SDG 12,060 in compensation to the complainant plus a SDG 300 fine under the so called Section on 347 Laws of Sudan kulu. This was despite the fact that the lady forfeited drugs worth over SDG 3000 plus SDG 116 and SDG 20 which the complainant used to bribe the police for the lady to be arrested. Little did she know that she was a goat in hyena's court and so deserved no justice. Yes! That is our judicial system which is now being used corruptly to exploit foreigners in Bor! Very unfortunate, indeed. It is true that we suffered in the hands of their police while we were refugees in their country but this does not justify what is happening to foreigners at the High Court. It is a shame to our judicial system and responsible ministry, Justice and Constitutional Affairs must act to bring some sanity to this system in Bor. Can you imagine a situation where Government issues an order to all bar owners in Bor not to sell beer before 5.00pm. Police colludes with some of their colleagues who force their way into a bar owned by a Kenyan lady and demand to be sold beer, threatening to beat up this lady. Out of fear the lady serves them with beer as they demand, only for their colleagues to storm and arrest this lady leaving their colleagues. They demand SDG 500 before releasing the lady. Justice in Bor is rotten and the tough talking and no-nonsense Governor His Excellency Kuol Manyang must do something to save these poor foreigners. The writer is human rights lawyer based in Bor.

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Jun 23, 2009
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