Local justice in Southern Sudan

Cherry Leonardi, Leben Nelson Moro
United States Institute of Peace, Rift Valley Institute
NGO associated?
Since its establishment five years ago under the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Government
of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has struggled to create a justice
system that reflects the values and requirements for justice
among the people of Southern Sudan. For both political
and practical reasons, chiefs’ courts and customary law are
central to this endeavor. A key question facing the GoSS is
how to define the relationship between chiefs’ courts (and
the ideas about law that they embody) and the courts of
Southern Sudan’s judiciary, while ensuring equal access to
justice and the protection of human rights.
■ Policy discussions and recent interventions have focused on
ascertainment, whereby the customary laws of communities
(usually defined as ethnic groups) would be identified
and recorded in written form, to become the basis for the
direct application, harmonization, and modification of
customary law.
■ This report empirically analyzes the current dynamics of
justice at the local level, identifying priorities for reform
according to the expressed needs and perceptions of local
litigants. Our findings are based on field research conducted
from November 2009 to January 2010 in three
locations in Southern Sudan: Aweil East, Wau, and