Kerbino’s Case: East African Court of Justice orders the Government of South Sudan to Appear

The First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on 6th March, 2019, issued Summons to the Minister of Justice of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) to appear before it on Monday 25th March, 2019, in the case of prominent South Sudanese businessman and philanthropist, Mr. Kerbino Wol Agok.

This Summons was issued in Application No. 20 of 2018, arising from Reference No. 19 of 2018). Friends and associates of Mr. Kerbino had instructed the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) to institute a case in the Court concerning Kerbino, who has been arbitrarily detained by the National Security Service (NSS) of South Sudan from 27th April 2018 to date.

According to the Pan African Lawyers President, Emeka J.P. Obegolu, Kerbino has not been charged before any Court or Tribunal for any offence till date. Further, despite the provisions of the Revitalised Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCISS) and a Decree issued by President Salva Kiir Mayardit requiring the release of political detainees and prisoners of war, Kerbino and others in a similar situation have not been released.

PALU therefore filed the case, being Reference No. 19 of 2018, on 12th October 2018. In the Reference, PALU complained about the prolonged, arbitrary detention of Mr. Agok, without being informed of reasons for his arrest, without being charged or brought before a competent impartial Court or tribunal. It also complained about the arbitrary freezing of Kerbino’s corporate and personal Bank Accounts, and the closure of his several businesses. It requests the Court to declare that Kerbino’s rights have been violated; to order his release; to order the reopening of his businesses and the return of his money; and that Kerbino be compensated by way of reparations and damages.

PALU further filed an Application for Urgent Interim Orders, being Application No. 20 of 2018, on 30th October 2018. In the Application, PALU requests the Court, pending the determination of the main case, to order the
Government of South Sudan GoSS) to provide precise and credible information as to the exact whereabouts of Kerbino; to provide assurance to the Court that the Government will immediately allow access to Kerbino by his
family, friends, associates, legal counsel and doctors; and to further provide the Court with reasons for freezing Kerbino’s personal and corporate bank accounts, confiscation of monies therein and the closure of his businesses.

The matter came up on the 6th March, 2019 for an ex parte Hearing, meaning the Court was listening to the PALU side only, on the reasons why the Application should be heard urgently. After listening to the PALU side, the Court ordered that the Government side be summoned to answer to the issues PALU raises in the Application for Urgent Interim Orders.

The Court thereafter issued formal Summons for an inter partes Hearing, meaning it will hear both the PALU and Government sides, on Monday 25th March 2019.

PALU was represented by its Vice President for Eastern Africa, Mr. Paul Kaunda, and its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Donald Deya.

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