JUBA – A South Sudan lawyer has slammed a decision this week by the Bank of South Sudan to freeze accounts of pro-democracy groups and activists over links to a protest group saying the actions of the bank violate the transitional constitution of South Sudan.
In a letter dated October 6, 2021, the Bank of South Sudan directed all commercial banks to freeze bank accounts of advocacy groups and activists in response to their involvement in the People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA), which called for peaceful protests for regime change.
“In reference to the above-mentioned subject, you are hereby directed to block all the bank accounts of the below organizations with immediate effect,” reads a letter signed by Moses Makur Deng, Director General at the bank responsible for Statistics and research and banking supervision.
However, Phillip Anyang, an advocate of the High Court in Juba, said the closure of the bank accounts violates the laws of South Sudan saying it shouldn’t be the Central Bank to direct for closure of banks account saying only the court of law should have done so.
“The actions of the Central Bank of South Sudan are contrary to the laws of South Sudan. Anyone suspected of having committed a crime, anybody believed to have suspicious deeds or committed an offense, it is the process of the law that is required,” Anyang told Radio Tamazuj.
“I may be found responsible for having committed an offense or a financial crime of such nature and then the law will take its course. It is only the courts of South Sudan that are mandated to give such directives after due process,” Anyang added.
He said “the relationship between a customer and a bank is purely between the two and no one from anywhere else except the courts of law that can question, order, direct and freeze such accounts. Anything contrary to that falls short of the provisions of the law, falls short of the rightful way of doing things, falls short of following the rightful legal procedures. The due process of the law is the main focus that any institute should subject itself to.”
“The two persons, owners of an institution, staff of an institution and the institution, these are separate entities and they should be treated distinctively and separately. If whoever works at Sudd Institute is found or suspected or implicated in some suspicious activities, that should not affect the institution. Because they are two separate persons.
“The Company’s Act is very clear, the NGOs Act is very clear, the constitution is very clear, the Banking Act is very clear, so why would we not do things within the law?”