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South Sudan: Financial independence of the judiciary

At the institutional level, international standards make clear that it is the duty of the State to provide adequate resources to enable the judiciary to properly perform its functions.[1] As a safeguard of judicial independence, the courts’ budget shall be prepared “in collaboration with the judiciary having regard to the needs and requirements of judicial administration”.[2]

Furthermore, the remuneration and pensions of judges must be secured by law at an adequate level[3] that is consistent with their status[4] and is sufficient to safeguard against conflict of interest and corruption.


In South Sudan, the judiciary is self-accounting, and its finances are subject to public audit.[5] The judiciary’s budget is charged on the consolidated fund and is independently managed by the judiciary.[6]

The Judicial Service Council drafts the judiciary’s yearly budget, which is sent to the President for approval.[7] Once the President approves the budget, money is allocated to the Chief Justice, who administers the funds.[8] To balance this “self-accounting”, the judiciary is subject to periodic public audits.[9]

The ICJ was informed that lack of resources available to the judiciary has translated into a shortage of judges: As of February 2014, only 124 statutory judges serve a population of over 11 million people. Outside of Juba and some of the State capitals, very few judges are available. Furthermore, the lack of resources also has resulted in a lack of adequate infrastructure, including court buildings. Furthermore, members of the judiciary often do not have access to the laws they are required to interpret and apply; the fact that there is no system for printing and distributing court decisions, key to the operation of a common law-based system as adopted by South Sudan, is also problematic.[10]

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. 1. UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, Principle 7;

    It is the duty of each Member State to provide adequate resources to enable the judiciary to properly perform its functions.

     Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, Adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Article A.4(v);

    States shall endow judicial bodies with adequate resources for the performance of its their
    functions. The judiciary shall be consulted regarding the preparation of budget and its
    implementation.

    Draft Universal Declaration on the Independence of Justice (also known as the Singhvi Declaration), Article 33.

    It shall be a priority of the highest order for the State to provide adequate resources to allow for the due administration of justice, including physical facilities appropriate for the maintenance of judicial independence, dignity and efficiency; judicial and administrative personnel; and operating budgets.

  2. 2. Draft Universal Declaration on the Independence of Justice (also known as the Singhvi Declaration), ”Article

    The budget of the courts shall be prepared by the competent authority in collaboration with the judiciary having regard to the needs and requirements of judicial administration.

  3. 3. Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, Adopted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Article A.4(m).

    The tenure, adequate remuneration, pension, housing, transport, conditions of physical and social security, age of retirement, disciplinary and recourse mechanisms and other conditions of service of judicial officers shall be prescribed and guaranteed by law.

  4. 4. UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, Principle 11;

    The term of office of judges, their independence, security, adequate remuneration, conditions of service, pensions and the age of retirement shall be adequately secured by law.

     Draft Universal Declaration on the Independence of Justice (also known as the Singhvi Declaration), Article 16(a) ”Article

    The term of office of the judges, their independence, security, adequate remuneration and conditions of service shall be secured by law and shall not be altered to their disadvantage.

     Universal Charter of the Judge, Approved by the International Association of Judges on 17 November 1999, ”Article

    The judge must receive sufficient remuneration to secure true economic independence. The remuneration must not depend on the results of the judges work and must not be reduced during his or her judicial service. The judge has a right to retirement with an annuity or pension in accordance with his or her professional category. After retirement a judge must not be prevented from exercising another legal profession solely because he or she has been a judge.

  5. 5. Transitional Constitution, S. 125(3).

    The Judiciary shall be self-accounting and its finances shall be subject to public audit.

  6. 6. Transitional Constitution, S. 125(2).

    The budget of the Judiciary, after its approval by the National Judicial Service Commission and assent of the President, shall be charged on the consolidated fund and it shall have the financial independence in the management thereof.

  7. 7. Transitional Constitution, S. 125(2)

    The budget of the Judiciary, after its approval by the National Judicial Service Commission and assent of the President, shall be charged on the consolidated fund and it shall have the financial independence in the management thereof.

    and Judiciary Act, S. 6(3).

    The Judiciary shall have an independent financial budget charge on the consolidated fund, approved by the President of the Government of Southern Sudan, on the recommendation of the Council.

  8. 8. Judiciary Act, S. 75-79.

    75. Bank Accounts.

    (1) The Judiciary shall open and operate bank accounts as may be necessary for the performance of its functions.

    (2) The Deputy President of the Supreme Court or such other person as may be designated by the President of the Supreme Court, shall ensure that any money received by or on behalf of the Judiciary are safely kept and deposited into a bank account as soon as practicable.

    (3) The Deputy President of the Supreme Court shall ensure that no money is withdrawn from, or paid out of any of the Judiciary’s bank accounts without authorisation.

    76. Fiscal Year.

    The fiscal year of the Judiciary shall be a period of twelve months commencing on such date in each year as determined by the financial laws of the Government of Southern Sudan.

    77. Accounts.

    (1) The President of the Supreme Court shall keep proper books of accounts and records of all the financial transactions of the Judiciary.

    (2) The President of the Supreme Court shall prepare and submit a financial report for the previous financial year, in accordance with the laws and/or regulations of the GoSS. The report shall include—

    (a) a financial statement of income and expenditure during the financial year;

    (b) a statement of assets and liabilities of the Judiciary for the fiscal year submitted to and audited by the Auditor General; and

    (c) a Financial Audit Report.

    78. Audit.

    (1) The President of the Supreme Court shall in each fiscal year, ensure that the accounts of the Judiciary are audited by the Auditor General’s Chamber or any other audit firm whom the Auditor General may authourise.

    (2) The President of the Supreme Court shall ensure that an audited statement of accounts is submitted to the President and to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, in accordance with the laws and regulations of GoSS.

    (3) The Auditor General shall have access to all the books of accounts, vouchers and other records, and shall be entitled to any information and explanation required in relation to those records.

    79. Circuit Budget.

    Every circuit shall, have a budget internally within the overall budget of the Judiciary.

  9. 9. Transitional Constitution, S. 125(3)

    The Judiciary shall be self-accounting and its finances shall be subject to public audit.

    and Judiciary Act, S. 77-78.

    77. Accounts.

    (1) The President of the Supreme Court shall keep proper books of accounts and records of all the financial transactions of the Judiciary.

    (2) The President of the Supreme Court shall prepare and submit a financial report for the previous financial year, in accordance with the laws and/or regulations of the GoSS. The report shall include—

    (a) a financial statement of income and expenditure during the financial year;

    (b) a statement of assets and liabilities of the Judiciary for the fiscal year submitted to and audited by the Auditor General; and

    (c) a Financial Audit Report.

    78. Audit.

    (1) The President of the Supreme Court shall in each fiscal year, ensure that the accounts of the Judiciary are audited by the Auditor General’s Chamber or any other audit firm whom the Auditor General may authourise.

    (2) The President of the Supreme Court shall ensure that an audited statement of accounts is submitted to the President and to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, in accordance with the laws and regulations of GoSS.

    (3) The Auditor General shall have access to all the books of accounts, vouchers and other records, and shall be entitled to any information and explanation required in relation to those records.

  10. 10. See International Commission of Jurists, South Sudan: An Independent Judiciary in an Independent State? (December 2013), p. 37-40.
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