The Judiciary of South Sudan

The Judiciary of South Sudan (JOSS) is a constitutionally mandated government branch that oversees the court systems of South Sudan.

It is independent of the Executive and Legislature with its budget charged on the consolidated fund thereby having the necessary financial independence.

The President of the Supreme Court of South Sudan is the head of the Judiciary of South Sudan is answerable to the President of the government of South Sudan for the administration of the judiciary.

The judicial power in South Sudan is derived from the people and will be exercised by the courts in accordance with the customs, values, norms and aspirations of the people and conformity with the constitution and the law. The overall management of JOSS; its composition and functions is prescribed by provisions of the constitution.

The Judiciary of South Sudan is structured as follows:

  • The Supreme Court of South Sudan
  • Courts of Appeal
  • High Courts
  • County Courts
  • Other courts or Tribunals as deemed necessary to be established

The Supreme Court of South Sudan

The highest court and will consist of a president, deputy president and five other justices. The Supreme Court shall sit in panels of three justices each on all matters except that when sitting as a Constitutional panel it shall consist of all members of the Supreme Court.

Functions of the Supreme Court of South Sudan are as follows:

  • Be court of final judicial instance in respect of any litigation or prosecution under South Sudan or state law, including statutory and customary law, save that any decisions arising under national laws shall be subject to review and decision by the Supreme Court.
  • Have original jurisdiction to decide on disputes that arise under this Constitution and the constitutions of South Sudan states at the instance of individuals, juridical entities or governments
  • Adjudicate on the constitutionality of laws and set aside or strike down laws or provisions of laws of South Sudan or states of South Sudan that are inconsistent with the constitution or constitutions of South Sudan states to the extent of the inconsistency
  • Be a court of review and cassation in respect of any criminal, civil and administrative matters arising out of or under South Sudan laws
  • Have criminal jurisdiction over the President and Vice President of the Government of South Sudan and the Speaker of South Sudan Legislative Assembly
  • Review death sentences imposed by South Sudan courts in respect of offences committed under South Sudan laws
  • Receive appeals against decisions and judgements of the courts of appeal
  • Have original and final jurisdiction to resolve disputes between the states of South Sudan and between the Government of South Sudan and a state; this jurisdiction shall not extend to disputes relating to exclusive, concurrent or residual powers of the national government; and
  • Have such other competences as may be determined by law

High Courts

The High Court is the highest court at the state level in South Sudan. Its most senior judge is its president and is answerable to the Governor of the state for the performance and administration of the State Judiciary.

  • Judicial powers in the states are vested in the state judiciary with the constitution of each state providing for the establishment of a state judiciary consisting of the hierarchy of courts: High Courts, County Courts and Any Other Courts and Tribunals.
  • State courts have civil and criminal jurisdiction in respect of the state, South Sudan and national laws, save that of a right to appeal as provided by the Constitution. However, the South Sudan Legislative Assembly shall determine the civil and criminal procedures in respect of litigation or prosecution under South Sudan laws in accordance with the Constitution.
  • Each state shall determine the jurisdiction of its customary law courts.  There shall be substantial representation of women in the state judiciary having regard to competence, integrity, credibility and impartiality.  Structure and powers of courts of the states of South Sudan shall be subject to the provisions of the constitution and constitution of the state concerned.

The constitution and legislation of each state shall provide for:

  • The appointment, removal and other terms and conditions of service of judges and lay magistrates
  • Guarantees for the independence and impartiality of the state judiciary, immunity of judges and magistrates, and measures to ensure that they are not subject to political or other interference.

The Judiciary of South Sudan has been summarized to include

Judges of South Sudan