Lakes state, News

Court dismisses Kidnapping case in forced marriage

By Yang Ater Yang


Rumbek Central County Court dismissed an alleged kidnapping case against relatives of a young woman, who was attempted into forced marriage against her wishes.

The case involved a former deputy governor of Lakes state, Akol Mathiang and a young woman, Jennifer Bil Maker.

Malith Jokthiang Wundit, a lawyer representing a family who were accused of kidnapping their daughter, Jennifer Bill Maker, expressed satisfaction with the ruling.

“The court’s decision upholds the rule of law and human rights. Amer, the girl’s mother, and James Matur, her maternal uncle, cannot be charged with kidnapping according to the law” advocate Wundit said.

He explained that evidence presented in court showed there were attempts to arrange a marriage between the deputy governor and the girl. The girl’s family, however, rejected the proposal, and she was taken to Kenya.

The court found insufficient evidence to convict Amer and James and dismissed the case under section 226 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act.

Civil Society Reacts

Daniel Laat Kon, the state coordinator for Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), welcomed the verdict.

“Justice has been served,” Laat said. “This case highlights the issue of forced marriage, which is illegal in Lakes State. We hope this serves as a lesson to others and deters them from taking the law into their own hands.”

Activist Laat said they will continue to monitor the situation.

“The family has 14 days to appeal. We condemn forced marriage and urge everyone to follow due process. No one is above the law, and we are happy the girl is back with her mother and can continue her education” he stated.

James Matur Nuer, Jennifer’s maternal uncle, explained his involvement in the case.

“The marriage discussions began in 2022 with a dowry payment. However, the girl refused to marry, and her school fees were not being paid. I stepped in and paid for her senior three and four education” the girl’s uncle narrated past events.

Matur continued that after Jennifer finished school in December 2023, she left with her mother’s agreement.

“I wasn’t involved in that decision. When she disappeared, I helped the mother search for her. Later, they accused me of kidnapping, and I sought safety from the police” Makur clarified the facts in the case.

Relpuou Maker Machol, Jennifer’s father, however, expressed his disagreement with the verdict.

“I am appealing the court’s decision. My daughter is under her uncle’s care, and I believe that’s wrong. I will take this case to the high court” the girl’s father echoed his position.

Meanwhile, Machol’s narrative differed from that of Jennifer’s maternal uncle Matur in regard to the girl’s relocation from home.

“I was responsible for Jennifer and placed her in Loreto Secondary School. After she finished senior four, her uncle took her to Kenya without my consent” Jennifer’s father argued.

Amer Nuer, Jennifer’s mother, emphasized her stance on her daughter’s future.

“I never act without involving a man,” she said. “My older daughter is married, but this younger one is in school. I don’t deny my brothers’ rights, but forced marriage is the issue here. My daughter’s education is what matters, not cows.”

“My daughter must finish her studies. I will continue to support her decision, regardless of any appeals. My rights as a mother will prevail, and God is my witness.” Nuer added.

She stressed that it’s not about loving a man and then hating him later.

“This marriage was never settled between my daughter and the deputy governor. It was forced upon her by uncles seeking cows. There was no love; she wants to finish school, and that’s her priority” Nuer echoed.

Unresolved Dispute

The court’s decision has not settled the purported forced marriage dispute entirely. Jennifer’s father intends to appeal, while her mother prioritizes her education.

The case highlights the complex issue of forced marriage and the importance of upholding the rule of law.


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