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South Sudan: Legal education

The availability and provision of quality legal education and continuing education is essential to ensuring that legal professionals are competent and able to play their essential role in contributing to ensuring respect for the rule of law, the protection and promotion of human rights and the fair administration of justice.

The Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary provide that persons selected for judicial office must have “appropriate training or qualifications in law”.[1] Furthermore, the Singhvi Declaration places a duty on judges to “keep themselves informed about international conventions and other instruments establishing human rights norms”.[2] The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct add that “a judge shall take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance the judge’s knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary for the proper performance of judicial duties, taking advantage for this purpose of the training and other facilities which should be made available, under judicial control”.[3]

The Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors likewise specify they shall be individuals “with appropriate training and qualifications”.[4] States must ensure that they meet this criterion and that prosecutors be made aware of the ethical duties of their office, of the constitutional and statutory protections for the rights of the suspect and the victim, and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law.[5] Prosecutors have a duty to “keep themselves well-informed and abreast of legal developments”.[6]

The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers place a duty on governments, professional associations of lawyers and educational institutions to ensure that lawyers have appropriate education and training and are aware of lawyers’ ethical duties and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law.[7] Further, they should take special measures to provide opportunities and ensure needs-appropriate training for law students from groups whose needs for legal services are not consistently met, particularly including those who have distinct cultures, traditions or languages or have been the victims of past discrimination.[8] Legal education must be open to all persons with requisite qualifications and no one shall be denied such opportunity by reason of race, colour, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national, linguistic or social origin, property, income, birth or status.[9]

The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has recommended that magistrates, judges, prosecutors, public defenders and lawyers should be requested to take courses on international human rights law. She also recommended that on-going legal education should be mandatory at all levels.[10]

The Singhvi Declaration states that “continuing legal education shall be available to judges”[11] and the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa add that “where appropriate” judges shall receive training and education in racial, culture and gender sensitisation.[12]


Recently, the Law Faculty of the University of Juba moved back to Juba. In the course of the civil war, its operation had been suspended and the law courses moved to Khartoum. Mostly due to the scarcity of resources, the majority of faculty members do not have permanent contracts. Physical facilities and material equipment were described to the ICJ as seriously inadequate. The shortage of books at the University library – one of only three libraries in Juba – was noted as a serious impediment to the development of course materials.[13]

One of the main reforms currently being implemented in South Sudan’s justice sector is the establishment of a Legal Training Institute (LTI). Once operational, it is intended that the LTI will perform the functions of a post-graduate institution responsible for quality control, streamlining and coordination of all legal training in South Sudan, including the bar course. Also the issuance of certificates for admission to pupillage is to fall under the LTI’s mandate. LTI training programmes will target all categories of legal professionals, except for members of the judiciary.

The Constitution provides that the judiciary “shall be responsible for the maintenance of professional standards and training of judicial personnel”.[14] Over the course of the ICJ’s missions to South Sudan in 2012, the inadequacy of judicial training and education emerged as an issue of great concern, matched by expressions of sincere interest and requests for international assistance to improve quality and quantity of training. Resulting from collaboration between the judiciary and various intergovernmental and international organizations, a number of individual training modules have been provided on topics such as English language and common law principles.[15]

The ICJ was told that the judiciary is working on the establishment of a judicial training institute, but as of September 2013 this had yet to be established. In November 2013, the media reported that of the judicial assistants recruited in February 2013, seventeen had “officially graduated” “after eight months training [in Wau], while in Central Equatoria State and Western Equatoria State, 61 had completed their training”.[16] No further information was made available on the contents of that training.[17]

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

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

    Persons selected for judicial office shall be individuals of integrity and ability with appropriate training or qualifications in law. Any method of judicial selection shall safeguard against judicial appointments for improper motives. In the selection of judges, there shall be no discrimination against a person on the grounds of race, colour, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or status, except that a requirement, that a candidate for judicial office must be a national of the country concerned, shall not be considered discriminatory.

     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 B(a).

    States shall ensure that judicial officials have appropriate education and training and should  be made aware of the ideals and ethical duties of their office, of the constitutional and  statutory protections for the rights of accused persons, victims and other litigants and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law.

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

    Judges shall keep themselves informed about international conventions and other instruments establishing human rights norms, and shall seek to implement them as far as feasible, within the limits set by their national constitutions and laws.

    See Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, ”Value

    Competence and diligence are prerequisites to the due performance of judicial office.

    Competence and diligence, ”6.4.”

    A judge shall keep himself or herself informed about relevant developments of international law, including international conventions and other instruments establishing human rights norms.

  3. 3. Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, ”Value

    Competence and diligence are prerequisites to the due performance of judicial office.

    Competence and diligence, ”6.3.”

    A judge shall take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance the judge’s knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary for the proper performance of judicial duties, taking advantage for this purpose of the training and other facilities which should be made available, under judicial control, to judges.

  4. 4. UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, ”Guideline

    Persons selected as prosecutors shall be individuals of integrity and ability, with appropriate training and qualifications.

  5. 5. UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, ”Guideline

    States shall ensure that…

    (b) Prosecutors have appropriate education and training and should be made aware of the ideals and ethical duties of their office, of the constitutional and statutory protections for the rights of the suspect and the victim, and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law.

    ;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 F(a)(1).

    (a) States shall ensure that:

    1. Prosecutors have appropriate education and training and should be made aware of the ideals and ethical duties of their office, of the constitutional and statutory protections for the rights of the suspect and the victim, and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law, including the Charter.

  6. 6. International Association of Prosecutors, Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, ”Article

    Prosecutors shall: at all times maintain the honour and dignity of their profession; always conduct themselves professionally, in accordance with the law and the rules and ethics of their profession; at all times exercise the highest standards of integrity and care; keep themselves well-informed and abreast of relevant legal developments; strive to be, and to be seen to be, consistent, independent and impartial; always protect an accused person’s right to a fair trial, and in particular ensure that evidence favourable to the accused is disclosed in accordance with the law or the requirements of a fair trial; always serve and protect the public interest; respect, protect and uphold the universal concept of human dignity and human rights.

  7. 7. UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, ”Principle

    Governments, professional associations of lawyers and educational institutions shall ensure that lawyers have appropriate education and training and be made aware of the ideals and ethical duties of the lawyer and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law.

     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 I(a);

    States, professional associations of lawyers and educational institutions shall ensure that lawyers have appropriate education and training and be made aware of the ideals and ethical duties of the lawyer and of human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized by national and international law.

    International Bar Association (IBA) Standards for the Independence of the Legal Profession, ”Standards

    2. Legal education shall be open to all persons with requisite qualifications and no one shall be denied such opportunity by reason of race, colour, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, status or physical disability.

    3. Legal education shall be designed to promote knowledge and understanding of the role and the skills required in practising as a lawyer, including awareness of the legal and ethical duties of a lawyer and of the human rights and fundamental freedoms recognised within the given jurisdiction and by international law.

    4. Programmes of legal education shall have regard to the social responsibilities of the lawyer, including co-operation in providing legal services to the needy and the promotion and defence of legal rights of whatever nature whether economic, social, cultural, civil and political and specially rights of such nature in the process of development.

  8. 8. UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, ”Principle

    In countries where there exist groups, communities or regions whose needs for legal services are not met, particularly where such groups have distinct cultures, traditions or languages or have been the victims of past discrimination, Governments, professional associations of lawyers and educational institutions should take special measures to provide opportunities for candidates from these groups to enter the legal profession and should ensure that they receive training appropriate to the needs of their groups.

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

    Legal education and entry into the legal profession shall be open to all persons with requisite qualifications and no one shall be denied such opportunity by reason of race, colour, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national, linguistic or social origin, property, income, birth or status.

  10. 10. Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Advance report on the global thematic study on human rights education and training of legal professionals, UN Doc. A/HRC/20/20 (2012), ”para.

    Magistrates, judges, prosecutors, public defenders and lawyers should be requested to take courses on international human rights law. Ongoing legal education should be mandatory for judges, magistrates, prosecutors, public legal defenders and lawyers at all levels. Law and political and social sciences students could also be encouraged to follow such courses during their education.

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

    Continuing education shall be available to judges.

  12. 12. 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 B(c).

    States shall ensure that judicial officials receive continuous training and education throughout their career including, where appropriate, in racial, cultural and gender sensitisation.

  13. 13. International Commission of Jurists, South Sudan: An Independent Judiciary in an Independent State? (December 2013), p. 44.
  14. 14. Transitional Constitution, S. 123(3).

    The Judiciary shall be responsible for the maintenance of professional standards and training of judicial personnel.

  15. 15. International Commission of Jurists, South Sudan: An Independent Judiciary in an Independent State? (December 2013), p. 34.
  16. 16. Gurtong.net, South Sudan Graduates 78 Judicial Assistants, 16 November 2013. (Last accessed 11 June 2014).
  17. 17. International Commission of Jurists, South Sudan: An Independent Judiciary in an Independent State? (December 2013), p. 34 and 44.
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