< < >

2004 | World Vision International - A study of customary law in contemporary Southern Sudan

This report gives a review of the customary law of southern Sudan (while it was still part of Sudan), examining its history and the main characteristics of the system currently in use. Customary law is the expression of the customs, beliefs and practice of the people of southern Sudan. Throughout the civil war it has been the principle source of social order and stability. According to the authors over 90% of day-to-day criminal and civil cases are executed under customary law. The basic tenet of customary law is reconciliation.

 The history of customary law in southern Sudan is discussed in chapter 5 while the current customary legal system with is discussed and critiqued in chapters 6 and 7. In chapter 10 the conflict between customary law and international human rights is explained. According to the authors the report shows that a significant part of the customary law is in conflict with international human rights granted to women and children. The women, whose function is to  cement family ties through ‘bride-wealth’ and the production of children, is seen as property. In paragraph 8.2. the authors discuss the rights of women and children in the context of family law and customary family law (or personal law).

In paragraph 10.5 it is suggested that a number of the more obvious and contentious issues of human and individual rights in customary family law can be addressed without great risk of social disruption, and to the benefit of women and children, by for instance according equal status for women before the courts and amending the adultery laws.