In South Sudan's capital city of Juba, the African nation plans to introduce a new initiative this week to fight a backlog of court cases. Responding to criticism that its criminal defendants have been neglected and have languished in prison, Chief Justice Chan Reech announced the introduction of mobile courts — a traveling band of police officials, judges, and ministry attorneys. "In some places that I have visited, I found people languishing in prison for something like three years without a formal charge," Reech said Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch issued a report that found that prisoners in South Sudan were often detained arbitrarily, often not charged with any crime and frequently not provided with lawyers for their defense. Also included in the report, some prisoners were even detained without any of the aforementioned legal aids for up to five years without trial. Reech said the problem within the world's newest country is due to a lack of judges and judical infrastructure. With only 120 judges serving a population of more than 8 million, the country's first chief justice notes that there are "no formal courts" outside the city. "If we wait for these courts to be built it will take generations."
South Sudan peacefully broke away from Sudan last year, culminating a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of war.