Womens’ Rights Are Violated in Juba Courts

4th October 2006

Her Excellency Awut Deng Acuil, Presidential Adviser for Gender Issues and Human Rights, today came face to face with a major issue which is denying the rights of all women in Southern Sudan. This is the issue of the application of some religious laws, which are in direct contradiction of the Interim Constitutions of Sudan and Southern Sudan.

In Juba Court today, HE Ms Deng was denied the right to stand as witness before the law, on the basis of her gender. She and the Secretary General of the Government of Southern Sudan, Abdon Agaw Jok Nhial, had been called as witnesses in a routine administrative hearing. Upon production of her ID, the court declined to accept HE Ms Deng’s statement, preferring instead the word of her male driver. The word of the Secretary General was accepted without question.

The explanation given was that the proceedings were governed by a law dating from 1991, which does not accept the right of women to give witness before a Court of Law.

Her Excellency Ms Deng said in a statement:
“What happened to me today is an abuse to the women in this community and country at large. The SPLM has created a new Sudan in which human beings, created in the image of God, cannot be deprived of the right to participate in society. The CPA enshrines the principle of no gender discrimination. Yet, it is still happening in Juba; it has happened to me today.

“Under the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, 2005 and Interim National Constitution, 2005, it is clear that contradictory pre-existing laws should be repealed. This 1991 legislation is in direct contravention of the two constitutions. Specifically,

The Bill of Rights, Article 18, states
‘All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law without discrimination as to race, ethnic origin, colour, sex, language, religious creed, political opinion, birth, locality or social status’

Article 20 (1) further states
‘Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men’

HE Ms Deng called for serious steps to be taken to repeal those laws, which are against the Constitution in order to ensure we follow and respect the ICSS as the supreme law of Southern Sudan.

Ayom Wol Dhal
Deputy Director of Information,
Office of the President, GOSS - Juba

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