The Presumption Of Innocence In Criminal Law And The Court Of Public

Opinion | By Juliet Yaiya Mang’ok Kuot


September 9, 2020 (Thessherald)–In this digital era, news travel almost as fast as the speed of light. It is no surprise that any crime that takes place anywhere around the world can receive attention from all over the world. This then attracts the opinion of the general public as to the guilt or innocence of the accused person, popularly known as the court of public opinion before the person goes through the judicial process to determine his or her guilt.

The court of public opinion ‘means the beliefs and judgment of most people’ 

Presumption of innocence is the principle that an accused person is not presumed guilty until guilt has been proved in the legally established manner.

We have seen many cases of crimes whereby the public has already convicted the accused person of the crime but the verdict turns out later in favor of the accused to the dismay of the general public. This has even led some people to question the credibility of the justice system. I will give a few examples here.
Let’s look at the case of OJ Simpson . This was a criminal trial of a former American college and professional football star who was acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend in 1995. The prosecution seemed to have a good case, many facts supporting the charge of murder against Mr. Simpson. They largely relied on domestic violence that had occurred before and after their divorce as motive of the murders, while the defense team largely relied on the grounds that evidence had been mishandled and that many of the los Angeles police department were racists, particularly the detective who allegedly found a bloody glove at Simpson’s home with the blood from both the deceased and the accused. Those gloves appeared to be too small when the accused tried them on in court.

Just across our borders in Kenya, we have the case of Tob Cohen, although still unresolved has the same storyline. A Dutch billionaire based in Kenya and who had married a Kenyan lady who happens to be the main suspect in the murder of her husband. The trial hasn’t even begun yet but the general public opinion has largely judged her as guilty.

Closer home, we had the case of late Lual marine an army general who allegedly used his power as an army general to grab people’s land and bully people. The last altercation turned bloody. It was a dispute arising from disagreement over land that has claimed not only his life but of many other innocent civilians who had no part in that dispute. The public was furious and the judgement from the court of public opinion was definitely against Lual marine as the killer of those innocent civilians. Whether he did it himself, by his direction or it was his bodyguards who did it without his directions, according to the court of public opinion the verdict is the same.

There is also the case of the three slain children brutally murdered at their home in Juba while their parents were away, this case was widely discussed on social media and it didn’t take long before the suspect was identified allegedly as their father’s ex-wife, the ex-wife though not identified received a lot of condemnation across social media only for the South Sudan police to identify a male university of Juba medical student as the prime suspect, a relative to the slain innocent children.

What then is the danger of court of public opinion? I mean the justice system is slow and the facts speak for themselves in such cases, right?.

The court of public opinion might do more harm than good.As much as we must exercise our freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the constitution we have to be careful not to do more harm, than has already been done by the crime committed. The constitution of South Sudan provides for the right to a fair trial, an accused person is presumed to be innocent until his/her guilt is proved according to law.
Presumption of innocence must be protected. It is one of the principles that underpins the justice system. It is a norm under customary international law and protected under various international treaties and domesticated under many national constitutions and their relevant legislations. The provision of fair trial is an essential procedure in the justice system that any ounce of irregularity in procedure would grant the appellant a mistrial in appeal.
The famous quote by Lord chief Justice Hewart when he instructed that justice should be seen to be done
According to a report on presumption of innocence , there are key threats to the presumption of innocence and the possible solutions.
They include;
Prejudicial statements normally comments/statements made by public implying the guilt of the accused especially where there is major public interest in the case.

Press coverage the media is a very powerful tool with regard to relaying information to the public and even have influence on the presumption made by the public as to the guilt or innocence of the accused based on how they make the report.

Presentation of suspects in court and in public this includes parading of suspects in restraints before the public and the media and during their transfer to and from courts. Their suggestions on possible solutions included the

Clear regimes provided to prohibit public officials implying guilt of a suspect. Training for journalists on presumption of innocence to help them understand the complexity of the issue and the impact that their reporting can have.

Mandatory training for legal aid lawyers, so that only journalists who have undergone training on such issues should be allowed to cover criminal proceedings.
Robust legal regime should be put in place to regarding how suspects are presented in public limit the use of restraint and limit suspect’s exposure to the public and the press.

Public opinion can be used for good and ensures the following ;
Cooperatively formed norms
Shines light on miscarriage of justice, The dangers of public opinion, Wedging and polarization, Death of complexity

People are forced to choose simplistic ‘sides’ complex issues are reduced to binary choices.

The substitution of opinion for fact

Facts are normally complex. But a yes or no answer is required immediately. The public goes with a fact or opinion or gut.

Bruce schneier opined that, ‘the court of public opinion is an alternative system of justice. It’s very different from traditional court system. This court is based on reputation, revenge, public shaming and the whims of the crowd. Having a good story is more important than having the law on your side. Being a sympathetic underdog is more important than being fair, facts matter but there are no standards of accuracy. The speed of the internet exacerbates this; a good story spreads faster than a bunch of facts.

In a nutshell, my point is that as much as public opinion has its merits with regards to guarding against injustices that could otherwise be occasioned to victims of crime, we must also ensure that the principles of innocence until proven guilty and that of fair trial are upheld, violation of which could also lead to another injustice should we publicly and sometimes legally convict an innocent person, this will also lead to erosion of the credibility of the justice system if they cannot render fair trial. The victims of these heinous crimes deserve justice but justice against the right perpetrator.

The writer is a concerned citizen and can be reached

Note: The views expressed in the ‘Opinion’ section are sole responsibility of individual authors and will take full responsibility, liability and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The South Sudan Herald is not liable for any comment submitted by individuals or authors and reserves the right to delete any opinion piece for any reason whatsoever.

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My opinion on women and the rule of law in South Sudan

Opinion | By Jackline Akuot Mangok

The rule of law

June 24, 2020 (Thessherald)–‘The rule of law is the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws’. In this case, the well-defined laws of South Sudan are; the Transitional Constitution, 2011, the Islamic laws, The Customary practices and General International principles.

Role of women in ensuring functionality of the rule of law

In an African setting, women play a very vital role in educating a society on all aspects of life. Women are known as the best home managers because they have the power of communication and patience. A woman would spread her wings further than a male counterpart to cover her eggs and this translates into her ability to control in a way, without using violence. They teach us from infancy until we are old enough to make sound decisions for ourselves, they also take care of us at old age. In short, women touch our lives in positive ways across all ages. There is no single decision that can be made without a woman’s opinion that will have no regret. This is an emphasis on how powerful women are and can be.

In every society, women have as equal duties as their male counter-parts to respect the laws of the country and to uphold her sovereignty. This statement places our women at the core of helping in transforming into a law abiding country. If woman are given the responsibility of educating masses about embracing and upholding the rule of law, then we stand in the face of success. It will be a sure bet that women will start emulating and upholding laws within their families before they reach the masses. This will maximize the quest for transforming our country for the better through the rule of law.

What needs to be done?

The government needs to identify the groups of qualified women, including those serving in the government and in civil service. Orient them on what laws to educate people and state clearly how to carry out the task.

Political goodwill. The government and government agencies, NGOs, Opposition and any other stakeholders must accord goodwill towards such initiative. They must as well be ready to give necessary financial support.

There must be laws to back up this women initiative, In the transitional Constitution of 2011, Article 9(1), Article 16, and Article 39, place the basis for woman participation in public affairs, but are they enough to back up this noble initiative?

How to implement this initiative

As per the transitional constitution of 2011, the government has accorded the women positions in the government to be 25 percent. This has been increased by human right to 35percent which has been endorsed by the government.

This is a good percentage in my opinion which can enable women to participate overwhelmingly in all public affairs. My view is that these same people in these positions should be tasked with the duty to teach the masses on embracing and upholding the rule of law in this country. Am very sure our lawmakers can be of great help as well given that there is no much work done in parliament except for specific days and hours. This will also ensure the government does not need to incur costs it won’t be able to pay. It will be a relatively cheap and affordable project.


A society whose pillars are built on the rule of law is one destined to prosper. Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher develops the way out of the state of nature into the political society and government by mutual contracts. He embraces laws as a unifying factor agreed upon by all members of certain society to guide and rule them against each person’s state of nature. These rules must be however known and understood in order to be applied and abided by. My point stresses on the fact that we have a good number of women working in the government but they do not have a lot of work to do. Assign them this task, because they are the right people to spread the word of the rule of law.

The author, is an Advocate at
Kuethpiny Deng Nhumrom
& Company Advocate and he’s reachable via his email at :(

Note: The views expressed in the ‘Opinion’ section are sole responsibility of individual authors and will take full responsibility, liability and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The South Sudan Herald is not liable for any comment submitted  by individuals authors and reserve the right to delete any opinion piece for any reason whatsoever.

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The untimely death of John Luk, had shocked many people as it happened unexpectedly.

The late John Luk Jok | Photo: Unknown

Opinion| By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

June 4, 2020 (Thessherald)–The premature death of minister John Luk Jok had shocked many South Sudanese people around the world, for the reason that, John has no known sickness people would deemed as the cause of his demise. His close relatives communicated that his death should be linked to present global pandemic as they said he was unwell for few days until when he told them he wanted to take a nap but never wake up.

John was born in 1952 in Akobo, in Lou-Nuer community at Jonglei State in Greater Upper Nile region of South Sudan. He was one among the number of children in the family of Jock Ruach and Nyamai Wang Bidit. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jock and Nyamai.

John Luke was one of the few privilege children in South Sudan who acquired formal education in a period of limited educational opportunity. As he left high school, he entered Khartoum University in 1974-77 where he earned his (LLB) degree before he was sent for further study abroad In England. In the period of 1982-4, he entered London School of Economics and earned (LLM) degree. As a student, John was also a political activist. He was appointed as the deputy spokesperson of the SPLM chapter in U.K, a position he held until when he decided to go to Africa and participated in the movement.

When John has joint the movement, he was appointed the first spokesperson of the SPLM/A and held the position until the split of the SPLM/A in 1991. He decided to break away with the splinter group, the Nasir faction. In Nasir Faction, John Luk maintained the same position. This author had an opportunity to viewed him for the first time in Nairobi at a feedback meeting after the two fighting factions of the SPLM/A had just came back from a conference held in Washington D.C on Sudan in the period of October 20-22, 1993. John was the one who chaired the meeting that widely attended by Many South Sudanese including Dr. Riek Machar, Dr. Lam Akol, Arok Thon Arok and many other commanders.

In 1995, John Luk defected from Riek Machar led movement and went back to the SPLM/A of John Garang. In many peace talks with Khartoum Government, John is always visible on the forefront during the Torit faction press briefings.

Then in 2001, John Luk fell off with Garang. Garang dismissed him and ordered him to go back to his father cattle barn. In his respond, John Luk reminded John Garang that, all South Sudanese people have equal footing in the SPLM/A, thus, no one could dismiss who, given the fact that, all movement’s cadres were sacrificing their blood for the freedom of all South Sudanese not to serve few masters.

When South Sudan was granted self-autonomy after the conclusion of comprehensive Peace Agreement and subsequently became independence in 2011, John Luk has served in many capacities.

Few among many are, John was the first to be appointed as the minister of Culture, Youth and Sport (2005—2008) and also served as Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Mining (2008—2010).

During 2010 national election, John Luk lost election in Akobo West. Despite the failure to win the seat, President Salva Kiir appointed him as the Minister of Justice after the elections. He held the post until July 23, 2013 when Salva dissolved the government. As the minister of Justice, John Luk help drafted South Sudan interim-Constitution that concentrated absolute powers in the hands of the President.

When political differences broke loose or following the outbreak of the civil in South Sudan in 2013, John Luk was detained along with ten other political detainees. They were accused as they were plotting a coup because of a press conference they held on December 6 that year.

On January 29, 2014, South Sudan government agreed to release some political detainees. The status of the political detainees had been a major obstacle during the peace negotiation, which delay the progress. Juba refused to release the political detainees but out of IGAD and international pressure, IGAD mediators’ persuasion resulted into Juba freeing only seven out of the eleven detainees.

The seven political detainees who were ally with Dr. Riek Machar before the outbreak of the crisis had granted an asylum to Kenya under the guardian of Uhuru Kenyatta. The detainees were allowed to leave South Sudan because some people expressed serious concerns about their safety if they could continue to stay in the country. Thus, Uhuru Kenyatta promised them a full asylum stay in his country and would bring them back to South Sudan, whenever there is a need for further investigation especially if they later found out they have participated in planning a coup.

While they arrived Kenya, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta made an announcement at the State house telling the world that Juba had released seven men despite mounting pressure from the international community as mentioned. He praised Salva Kiir that the release of some detainees, is a sign of goodwill that will pave the way to ease next rounds of the talks and open up humanitarian corridors to create an atmosphere for displaced citizens to return home and rebuild their lives. President Kenyatta further emphasized that IGAD partners are expressing their support to the IGAD led peace process and have given assurances of facilitating efforts geared toward peaceful South Sudan.

We need to move quickly enough to secure the gains IGAD had made so far and move to the next phase of the peace talks. The seven men who were released to President Kenyatta’s custody included Deng Allor Kuol, Geir Chuang Aluong, Cirino Hiteng Ofuho, Kosti Manibe Ngai, John Luk Jock, Madut Biar Yel and Chol Tong Mayay. Those who remained in the detention were Pagan Amum Okeich former Secretary General of the SPLM Party, Oyai Deng Ajak former National Security Minister, Majak D’Agoot, former Deputy Defense minister and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth former Ambassador to the United States.

The release of the seven detainees came while South Sudan government was in the process of imposing treason charges against all thirteen (13) politicians for 2013 power struggle that Kiir allegedly termed as a coup attempt against his government. After the seven detainees were release, the four who remained in custody were order to face trial while three others including Dr. Riek Machar, Lado Gore and Taban Deng Gai will be try in absentia. During the press conference in the State House in Nairobi, former political prisoners expressed regret that the country had fell backward and undergoing a painful experience even after gaining an independence. Former minister of Justice John Luk Jock who became the spoke person for the group stated, “We don’t feel bitter, we only feel sad that the crisis in our country is happening just after our independence; we don’t see our president as our enemy.” Furthermore, Jock had indicated that as leaders of the young country, we are ashamed of the quarreling over issues, which we could have been resolved peacefully, referring to the political struggle within the SPLM ruling party that led to the violence.

Following the SPLM Arusha reunification from January 8-19, 2015, John Luk and many former detainees decided to go back to Juba, John was appointed again as a minister of Transport, but still holding their secluded bloc as separate entity until current Revitalized Peace Agreement conclusion. The peace granted FDs) to take 02 ministers and John Luk was nominated by his colleague to take one of the ministerial post.

This past march, when ministers were arranged, John Luk became the minister of East African Affairs. A position he hold until his untimely fallen. John Luk has survived by his wife Mary James Gatluak and a number of children. John Luk demise is a great lost to all South Sudanese, Nuer Community and Lou-Nuer in which he halt. May the Good Lord rest his soul in enteral life and comfort his immediate family and those he has touched in life.

The writer is a concerned South Sudanese citizen and a political analyst, who currently lives in the United States.

Note: The views expressed in the ‘Opinion’ section are sole responsibility of individual authors and will take full responsibility, liability and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The South Sudan Herald is not liable for any comment submitted  by individuals authors and reserve the right to delete any opinion piece for any reason whatsoever.

Should you wish to submit your opinion piece or analysis, kindly contact us at:

Youth leader Gola arrests citizen over corruption claims on Facebook, sues him in court

May 21, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Chairman of the National Youth Union (SSNYU), Gola Boyoi Boya has arrested and filed a lawsuit against one member of the organization, Meen Gabriel Chol Kuac for what he called “defamatory remarks.”

“This serves to inform the public and the youth fraternity that the South Sudan National Youth Union has opened a defamation case against Mr. Meen Gabriel Chol Kuac, After the Pubic Prosecution Attorney has issued the Warrant of Arrest, the Police arrested him this afternoon. Therefore, the Union is informing his family, relatives, and friends that Mr. Meen Gabriel Chol Kuac is in Northern Division Police station, Juba town, The case is about the claims of the embezzlement and sources of the said money, which Mr. Meen Gabriel Chol Kuac has been propagating on his Facebook timeline and on other social media platforms,” said the statement issued on Wednesday.

“Therefore, for transparency and rule of law, the Union resolved to open a case against him to substantiate his claims with evidences before the court of law. In pursuant of freedom of speech and transparency, the Union stands to be criticized with facts if the leadership goes astray. But as South Sudan National Youth Union cherishes freedom of speech, it can’t entertain defamatory utterances on the pretext of the freedom of speech at the expense of its reputation.”

“The allegations of financial corruption are not something to be taken lightly for it damages the reputations of the institutions and makes the public to believe that the alleged claims are true if the accused institutions and people didn’t go to court.”

The Union clarified that the matter is an individual issue and shouldn’t be politicized whatsoever.

“This necessitated the current undertaking. Lastly, the Union would like to categorically make it clear that the case is only between the Union and Mr. Meen Gabriel Chol Kuac. Therefore, the Union would like to appeal to the public to be cautious about those who would want to politicize the case and take it out of the context. The Union is not acting at behest of anyone, but wants to clear its image from all the alleged financial scandals through court of law. There is nothing political or personal in this case.”

Boyoi was accused last week of misappropriating funding that should have been used for other beneficial purposes.

“No one is above the law”, the case of Justice Chan Reech and President Kiir

By Gabriel Kuot Akok

The President of the Republic, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit presides over swearing-in of Ministers, governors of Akobo & Twic, and Deputy governor of Central Bank of South Sudan / Photo: PPU

(Thessherald)–Earlier March 2020, president Kiir issued orders directing airport officials and health workers to check any new travellers upon their arrival to Juba International Airport without exception as to social, economic, political, age, sex and colour.

Few days after the issuance of the order, some new appointed national ministers who just flown into the country were isolated for 14 days without accessing their offices and the families. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is among the isolated dignitaries but they didn’t complain.

Recently the sons of Chief Justice Chan Reech Madut reacted negatively over the medical screening in the airport upon their arrival from UK claiming that they are Cronavirus free and so there is no need for test.

Over the legal measures taken against those lost boys, the father who is also untouchable chief justice of Supreme Court intervened and instructed the security apparatus to leave them without test.

H.E. Kiirdit also issued another order banning the public gathering that include churches, schools among others due to the fear of COVID 19 without any excuses but within some few days, he himself violated the order by attending the installation of a new political archbishop in St. Theresa Church at Kator on Sunday March 22, 2020 meanwhile there were unaccountable ceremonies being cancelled due to the effectiveness of the order.

This shows that the orders and the laws are made for specific groups of people that exclude president and chief justice given the above stated reasons.

I don’t understand well whether Cronavirus and other pandemic diseases don’t affect the sons of elites, ( the first class citizen as they do claim). It’s sad.

What if those boys who were freed without thorough medical check are affected? How safe will be the third class citizens? God will not even bother to help those whom their leaders wish to die unconditionally because it’s well stipulated in the bible that God helps those who help themselves.

In actual fact, we are not well protected from COVID 19 and other diseases. It is taken for joke in South Sudan compare to the other countries in Africa in particular and the world at large.
Imagine the borders of South Sudan specifically at the side of Sudan, Ethiopia and Congo are very open to the extend that the affected person can enter into the country freely since the government is not doing enough to ensure that the territory is well sieged.

Furthermore, apart from the orders issued by the president, he formed an High Level Task Committee to take extra precautionary measures in combating the spread of Cronavirus in South Sudan . The president made himself to be the head of this committee in spite the fact that he is layman in medicine.
President has been trying to aware his people all this time to avoid public gathering but today Sunday, he permitted and attended the church services. Is it not contradictory?
How effective is the order ? What if there were an affected person among the congregation?

How possible is the prevention of Corona after that Church services?

Is it important for churches, schools and other public places to be avoided anymore after massive number gathered at St. Theresa on sunday March 22, 2020?

Enacting the laws and violate them at the same time kills, the case of Majier Gai. It’s only my country South Sudan where I get anti-laws, the one who is supposed to respect the law more than laymen. This is what is called impunity and abuse of power and authority that Chan Reech and Kiirdit are doing and they must be held accountable for it now or later.

God have mercy on us!!!

This is my personal opinion as a concern citizen and it doesn’t represent any institution. The author is the Graduate of Law and can be reached via email address

South Sudan’s girl takes her boyfriend’s life after relationship breakup

Mary J Queen/ Photo: Facebook

(Thessherald)-A 20-year-old South Sudanese girl identified as Mary J. Queen had stabbed her boyfriend after a relationship breakup, several sources confirmed on Saturday.

“ She stabbed him after they broke up. The police issued a search warrant for her arrest, and she will be tried on charges of killing a person without a valid reason,” said a family member of the victim.

The same source explained that the girl and the deceased hail from the same community.

“She comes from the same community as the victim, she is an evil girl with a very bad heart. How can a human being end a person’s life in this bad way,”? he added.

No arrest has been reported to date, as the perpetrator is still at large, for fear of being arrested.

The conflict and instability in the world’s youngest nation has increased crime levels in the country.