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South Sudan: Lawyers’ freedom of expression and association

Like other citizens, lawyers are entitled to enjoyment of their rights to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. These fundamental freedoms acquire specific importance in the case of persons involved in the administration of justice. 

The UN Basic Principles and the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa accordingly underscore and clarify the particular rights of lawyers to take part in public discussions of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice, and human rights; to join or form local, national or international organizations; and to attend the meetings of such groups or associations without suffering professional restrictions. They also emphasize that in exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association, lawyers must conduct themselves in line with the law and recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession in exercising these rights.[1]

Furthermore, as set out above in Section 3, lawyers are entitled to form and join self-governing professional associations that represent their interests, promote their continuing education and protect their professional integrity.


Freedom of association

Lawyers and legal professionals in South Sudan can freely associate with each other.

As noted above, a Bar Association exists, at least in name.

Further, the South Sudan Law Society, despite the ambiguity created by its name, is not a professional self-regulating body of the legal profession, but rather a civil society organization. It has played and continues to play an important and very visible role in the public debate on the administration of justice.

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. 1. UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, [expand title=”Principle 23;”]

    Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.

    [/expand] Draft Universal Declaration on the Independence of Justice (also known as the Singhvi Declaration), [expand title=”Article 92;”]

    Lawyers shall enjoy freedom of belief, expression, association and assembly; and in particular they shall have the right to:

    (a) Take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law and the administration of justice;

    (b) Join or form freely local, national and international organizations;

    (c) Propose and recommend well considered law reforms in the public interest and inform the public about such matters;

    (d) Take full and active part in the political, social and cultural life of their country.

    [/expand] International Commission of Jurists,  Geneva Declaration: Principles on Upholding the Rule of Law and the Role of Judges and Lawyers in Times of Crisis (2008), [expand title=”Principle 5;”]

    In times of crisis the stability and continuity of the judiciary is essential. Judges should not be subject to arbitrary removal, individually or collectively, by the executive, legislative or judicial branches. Judges may only be removed, by means of fair and transparent proceedings, for serious misconduct incompatible with judicial office, criminal offence or incapacity that renders them unable to discharge their functions. The right of judges and lawyers to freedom of association, including the right to establish and join professional associations, must at all times be respected.

    [/expand] International Bar Association (IBA) Standards for the Independence of the Legal Profession, [expand title=”Standard 14.”]

    Lawyers shall not by reason of exercising their profession be denied freedom of belief, expression, association and assembly; and in particular they shall have the right to: a) take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law and the administration of justice; b) join or form freely local, national and international organisations; c) propose and recommend well considered law reforms in the public interest and inform the public about such matters.

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