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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Tarikh Tana (Our History): Episode 4: An Evolution of Crime and Punishment in South Sudan


This show is brought to you under the South Sudan National Archives Project, supported by Norway and implemented by UNESCO in partnership with RVI, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

The fourth Tarikh Tana (Our History) radio show in this second series will focus on “An Evolution of Crime and Punishment in South Sudan”.


South Sudan’s diverse communities have always had methods to establish wrongdoing, judge and decide on disputes, settle conflicts, and organize compensation, punishment, and restitution. But with the formation of state government particularly since the 1930s, local chiefs and British officials tried to work out a common law for all of South Sudan. This history is documented in the South Sudan National Archives, where administrators and chiefs try to settle new criminal laws, standards of proof (which was difficult, particularly in cases of witchcraft and poisoning), and fair punishments. The Condominium government-built prisons, and this changed ideas of punishment across South Sudan. British and South Sudanese officials disagreed on fair punishments for crimes (for example child compensation for accidental deaths), and their attempts to standardise punishments across different communities led to confusion and suspicion on key issues such as dia and ‘blood compensation’.

The two guests were:

Dr Geri Raimondo Legge
Professor of Law at the University of Juba and Former Justice of Court of Appeal in the Judiciary of South Sudan

2nd Lt Jackline Bullen Gaga
Northern Police Division, Juba South Sudan

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