South Sudan v James Dak: A Case of Travesty of Justice
Author: Mark A. Wek Deng
Type: Policy Briefs
James Dak is a national of South Sudan who sought refugee status in Kenya in 2015 due to the civil war in South Sudan. In 2016, however, the Kenyan government cancelled his visa and returned him to South Sudan where he was charged with treason, among others, and sentenced to death. Fortunately, South Sudan‘s President, Salva Kiir, exercised his presidential clemency and pardoned him, along with other convicts. This paper notes the fact that Mr Dak has been set free but maintains that the case against him never seemed to have been proven for two principal reasons: the paucity of evidence to prove the charges (insofar as the evidence remains controversial) and the politics involved. The Court did not seem to have paid regard to these underlying issues.
The gist of the argument this paper makes is that Mr Dak has suffered injustice through combined violations of international refugee law and domestic constitutional law/criminal law and due process. This should alert the UN refugee agencies, such as the UNHCR, as well as human rights organisations, to step up their efforts to prevent such violations from occurring in the future.
Mark Atem Wek Deng is an Australian admitted South Sudanese lawyer. He is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Queensland, Australia. His research looks at constitution building processes in post-conflict societies, focusing particularly on South Sudan. In particular, he investigates political philosophy and the advancement of the rule of law and constitutionalism.