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UNHCR, govt launch bid to educate refugees on access to justice

Authors: Baria Johnson | Ayen Makur | Published: Saturday, June 8, 2024

A group picture of the Chief Justice, Deputy Commissioner for Refugee Affairs, and refugees. (Photo: Baria Johnson).

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and South Sudan Commission for Refugee Affairs have kicked off a round-table discussion to educate refugees and asylum seekers on access to justice.

South Sudan hosts a significant number of refugees and asylum seekers following a surge driven by the conflict in neighboring Sudan.

The registered refugee count is 462,933 individuals across 110,636 households across the country

The roundtable discussion launched on Friday will adopt a countrywide framework which supports access to justice and enhance rule of law for refugees and asylum seekers.

The forum brought together the judiciary, stakeholders, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons.

UNHCR Representative, Gloria Nyaki, said it is important that the government of South Sudan creates enabling conditions for refugees through strengthening rule of law.

She stressed on the need to sensitize the returnees, IDPs and Asylum seekers on Sexual and Gender Based Violence and women rights.

“At the National level, one of the four key plugs that the South Sudan government made at the global refugee forum is to create enabling Justice, State organs and peace building mechanisms,” said Nyaki

“Respect for the rule of law requires different States in this country to provide a safe and right respectful environment and this should be supported by a functional judicial sector and other accountability structures.”

On his part, John Debi, the Deputy Commissioner for Refugee Affairs, said the legal frameworks governing the refugees and asylum seekers in the country requires development and enactment of legal acts.

He added that it is essential to align the South Sudan legislative efforts with the International standards and protocols.

“The Legal frame governing the rights and obligations of Refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced populations in South Sudan requires argent enhancement to address these needs.”

“We must implement fourth coming actions such as the development of acumen of legal acts. Moreover, it is essential to align our legislative efforts with international standards, including the 1951 Refugees convention and 1969 OAU protocols to ensure comprehensive protection for all the individuals seeking refuge within our borders.”

Addressing the forum, Chief Justice Chan Reech pointed out that language barriers are one of the challenges facing the judiciary, especially for the advocates and judges to communicate with the complainants.

Justice Chan suggested the formation of complaint committee to see the challenges facing the people to have access to law.

“Some people come to the courts they do not know Arabic or English which are set as the official languages,” he said.

“This we have to find somebody we used to have translators in the court because sometimes even the Judge sitting on the table attending to the complains may not know the language of the complainer so we somebody to translate that so that the judge understands that.”

“This is a very serious challenge and I do not have a ready answer for this situation we are facing. Sometimes I feel like if we can introduce a complain box so that the citizens who do not have an advocate writes a complain and put in that box, we form a complains committee to see such issues.”

On the other hand, refugees who attended the event says there is a need to sensitize them on the procedures to have access to Justice in the country.

“We do not know where to go and open a case or whom to report to,” said Faida Ortans, a refugee from DR Congo.

“When a refugee opens a case in the camp, it ends there that is why I want to learn where to go and all the procedures to get access to Justice.”

Meanwhile, Abdel Latif, a refugee from Sudan, says there are cases that the authorities inside the camp cannot address and requires intervention from the law.

“Refugees face a lot of challenges in access to Justice, there are cases that can be addressed inside the camp and there are others that cannot especially women, even though they go to the protection unit but still there is no response to their challenges.”


















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