Minister demands over 500 pending prison cases cleared

By Aweye Teddy Onam

The Minister of Justice Ruben Madol Arol has directed the Public Prosecutor’s office to fast track and work on pending cases crowding the prison cells.

This came as Justice Minister Ruben on Wednesday met with the judiciary officials, the director general of the South Sudan Prison Service, the director of public prosecutions, the police and the 12 public prosecutors from the police divisions.

According to the media reports, the meeting revealed that there are over 500 pending cases in the 12 police divisions, of which 300 are either not classified as criminal or civil cases.

“It is strange to hear that 300 cases cannot be determined to be either criminal or civil. The information about the 300 cases seems not to be in the open and it is important to ask ourselves if we want to serve the people of South Sudan,” the Minister reportedly told the officials in the meeting.

“Should overcrowding in the prison in Juba be a difficult situation that we cannot handle as the Ministry of Justice, the judiciary, police, and prison authority? I am ordering the director for public prosecutions to start visiting the police cells with effect from next week. We want to know what is happening and have our ideas about these challenges that are being reported,” he directed.

But according to the Head of Legal Administration and Public Prosecution Attorney, Sabri Wani Lado, the reasons for the backlog cases being in huge numbers are due to the lack of enough judges to execute proceedings, difficult means of transport to take inmates to courts, and complaints as well as witnesses not coming in time to hear the cases.

“There is a limited number of Judges and we also have the challenge of transporting inmates to the courts, that is why some of these cases are being adjourned. There is also the problem of complainants and witnesses commuting to Juba from the suburbs and sometimes they do not come to court, leading to adjournments. That is why the number of inmates increased,” Sabri reportedly stated.

On the other hand, Wani said only Juba Central Prison houses many suspects in the whole of Central Equatoria State.

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