Rights defender raises alarm over poor working conditions at Judiciary

Rights defender raises alarm over poor working conditions at Judiciary

Human rights watchdog has raised concerns over the poor working conditions at the judiciary.

The Executive Director of the Justice and Human Rights Observatory (JAHRO), Godfrey Bullen, said it was ironic that the judges who work to protect the rights of people had their rights violated.

The JAHRO is a group offering legal aid for free to those who cannot afford the hire a lawyer.

“We have individual judges who have left the profession due to very terrible working conditions. It is true that judges are the ones who protect the rights of people, who make sure that people get justice, but unfortunately, their rights are not protected in such a way that we have seen our colleagues as judges working in very terrible working conditions,” Bullen said.

The advocate added that the lack of logistics to facilitate the movement for the judges had made most of them use public transport which exposes them to dangers because sometimes they sit next to the family members of the people they convicted.

 “The conditions are not favourable at all. You have, for instance, one room and you have two judges working in one hall which is not favourable for them,” he added.

Last month, the First Vice President Dr Riek Machar, who chairs the governance cluster, raised similar concerns.

He said judicial officers are leaving for greener pastures in large numbers due to poor remuneration.

Bullen conquered with Dr Machar’s observation that low pay is another issue that is affecting the performance of the judges. Some of them are forced to balance between meeting the needs of their families and their profession.

‘‘It doesn’t make sense at all if you as a judge cannot afford the treatment of your children or school fees or feeding of your children, and you continue sitting on the bench when you’re discharging your work and not paid.”

In July 2017, President Salva Kiir dismissed 14 judges after they went on strike to demand better working conditions and the removal of Chief Justice, Chan Reech Madut, from the bench for ignoring their pleas on improving their working conditions.