Meet the Dinka people, the tallest people on Earth

Meet the Dinka people, the tallest people on Earth (Photo via The African History)

Meet the Dinka people, the tallest people on Earth (Photo via The African History)

JUBA – The Dinka people are a Nilotic tribe from South Sudan, but they do have a significant community in the diaspora. They live mostly along the Nile, from Mangalla to Renk, in Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile (formerly two out of three Sudanese Southern Provinces) and Dinka Ngok of Abyei Area in South Sudan.

The Dinka people originated from the Gezira, in what is now Sudan, according to oral traditions. The area was controlled in ancient times by the Kingdom of Alodia, a multicultural Christian kingdom governed by Nubians.

Dinka man conversing and a cousin sister with their white friend

Dinka man conversing and a cousin sister with their white friend

Living in its southern region and connecting with the Nubians, the Dinka people learned the Nubian syntax in a significant amount. Around the 13th century, the Dinka began to move from the Gezira with the disintegration of Alodia, escaping slave raids and other military conflicts, and also droughts.

The Dinka people live mostly on traditional farming and herding, depending on livestock as a cultural pride not for trade or meat, but cultural presentations, ceremonies, dowries and milk products for all ages.

Former South Sudan Chief of Defense with son

Former South Sudan Chief of Defense with son

Food and cash crops are cultivated on the Dinka. Grains, primarily sorghum and millet are grown in food crops. Groundnuts, sesame and gum-arabs are among the cash crops. Cattle are confined in dry season to wetland areas, the sudd and grass fields, but are taken to high grounds in the rainy season to prevent flooding and mud.

According to the 2008 Sudanese census Dinka number around 4.5 million people , making up about 18% of the country’s population and South Sudan ‘s biggest ethnic group.

Basketball player from Dinka

Basketball player from Dinka

They called themselves Muonyjang (singular) or jieng (plural), they make up one of the branches of the Nilotes River Lake (mainly sedentary agri-pastoral ethnic group of the Nile Valley and African Great Lakes that speak Nilotic languages, which include Nuer and Luo).

The people of Dinka do not have a centralized authority, but they have many independent but interrelated clans. Traditionally, some of these clans provide ritual chiefs, known as “fishing spear masters” or beny bith, who provide leadership to the entire people and appear to be at least partly hereditary.

Dinka man hugging his white friend

Dinka man hugging his white friend

Dinka called their language Dinka or “Thuɔŋjäŋ” (Thoŋ ë Muɔnyjäŋ), their language is one of the Nilotic languages of the eastern Sudanic language family. Their language is written in Latin letters with some additional characters included.

South Sudan should revisit its ties with Egypt to seal mutual relationship with Ethiopia 

By Clement Maring Samuel

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, left, meeting Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, right, in Cairo in 2018 [Photo via Middle East Monitor]

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, left, meeting Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, right, in Cairo in 2018 [Photo via Middle East Monitor]

OPINION – The picture above (embedded below) reveals the 2nd African Great Lakes Region Petroleum and Mineral Resources Conference and Exhibition at Royale Imperial Hotel in Kampala in 2017. The African Great Lakes region comprises Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. At that great conference, an Egyptian discussed the Jonglei Canal project, but not South Sudanese.

The organizing chairman invited me into the conference in my competence as an independent writer but not serving as the South Sudan government. What puzzled me was Egypt’s presence at the conference to discuss the Jonglei Canal project, while South Sudan was not called to the symposium. Even South Sudan’s ambassador in Kampala did not show up.

Writer By Clement Maring Samuel at a symposium in Uganda's capital Kampala in 2018 [Photo courtesy of the author]

Writer By Clement Maring Samuel at a symposium in Uganda’s capital Kampala in 2018 [Photo courtesy of the author]

I became sceptical of this discount against South Sudan. Egypt and Uganda have a common geopolitical influence in South Sudan’s natural resources, oil and gas. The presentation embittered me to inquire why the Jonglei Canal was debated without a representative of South Sudan. When Jonglei Canal was dug, I was a child in Juba, but the digging of the canal affected all localities along the River Nile.

In Terekeka County the distributaries and tributaries drained, the areas became dry, besides the exact localities in Jonglei where the canal was drilled. I warned the Egyptians that if Egypt continues to renew the Jonglei Canal project, we (South Sudanese) will ignore our domestic wars to attack Egypt.

Why did I begin with this history material? I read roaming messages on social media blaming the Minister of defence Angelina Teny, of speaking, “The country’s foreign relations cannot be decided by a foreign country”. This appears after circulating notes on social media that South Sudan has granted a military-based preference to Egypt and not Ethiopia.

As a proceeding, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia allegedly warned president Kiir of providing a military base to Egypt in the eastern part of the region which Ethiopia sees as an open base for an assault against Grand Ethiopia’s Renaissance project.

If this is authentic, the world’s youngest country needs to revisit its bilateral arrangement with Egypt over the means to seal its relationship with Ethiopia. What South Sudan’s leaders should ask is, when did Ethiopia become an enemy? Ethiopia has supported South Sudan for many outstanding things since the era of Mengistu Haile Mariam to the present leadership, including her contribution in the fight for the Republic of South Sudan. It would be a grave mistake to dash Ethiopia in favour of Egypt, which has been fighting South Sudan, including the killing of South Sudanese students in Egypt.

South Sudan has no borders with Egypt, but it has borders with Ethiopia. Egypt is not a member of the IGAD, but both South Sudan and Ethiopia are. Ethiopia plays a central role in promoting regional integration in the IGAD region not only through its policies and strategies in the sustainable management of natural resources but also in infrastructure development and in achieving peace in the region.

South Sudan as a young country should distance from deals that bring the war to its peripheries and concentrate on plans to utilize its natural resources for infrastructural development and in achieving a comprehensive peace in the region. It would be fatal if South Sudan allowed Ethiopians to turn this role against her if it proves the deal with Egypt is true.

Egypt’s interest in Nile waters is to the detriment of South Sudan. There is nothing better coming from Egypt than to achieve its goal through South Sudan. A foreign country cannot decide a country’s foreign policy, but it is imprudent to allow a military base in the country that threatens regional integration and peace.

The author is a concerned citizen of South Sudan. He can be reached via: Warun1maring@gmail.com


The views expressed in the ‘OPINIONS & ANALYSIS’ section of the Sudans Post are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not this website. If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email us here.         

Eye Radio urged to apologize for ‘misinforming’ on PoC violence

Photo: Logo of Eye Radio [Photo via Eye radio]

Photo: Logo of Eye Radio [Photo via Eye radio]

JUBA – Eye Radio has been urged by a group of South Sudan young intellectuals both in the country and abroad to apologize to the Nuer people for what they said was a “reckless” reporting on the reasons which led to fighting among IDPs in Juba POCs over the weekend.

On Sunday, the Eye Radio reported that “Three-day fighting amongst IDPs allegedly over a stolen memory card has left 175 wounded at the Protection of Civilians site located at the UN House in Juba.”

The report quoted a Church leader whom many inside the protection of civilian’s site said was not known to them and that the radio management was making up a narrative that is not the real problem.

“Radio station is making up a story so that they get readers for the hottest news,” Simon Kuol, an internally displaced person and student at the University of Juba told Sudans Post from Juba this afternoon.

“This is not true; the issue is not about a memory card. It was about a lady who was found standing with a man which always can lead to violence in the south Sudanese culture,” Kuol said.

Odingo Kueth Nyaseri, a member of South Sudan youth organization in Kenya demanded that Eye radio apologizes for misleading the  public on the reasons which led to the fighting in Juba UN protection of civilians’ site.

“I’m calling on Eye Radio board of management to immediately apologize and dismiss their recent reckless report on their page regarding the gone dispute of IDPs that lasted for duration of three days,” Kueth said.

He accused the Eye Radio of copying a false story from a South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) journalist Garang John who is known for hate speech and has been ridiculing those who have been seeking protection from the UN mission in the country.

“The fighting wasn’t about memory card as circulated and propagated by Garang John and Eye Radio in particular. They (Eye Radio) could have gone to the ground where the incident occurred in order to confirm the root causes and right information concerning the clash that lasted for three days instead of defending on inaccurate hearsays spread by senior experts of propaganda,” Kueth said.

Gelweng militia commander linked to 2013 Juba massacre killed in Lakes

Members of South Sudan’s army who fought the Gelweng militia group today in Lakes (Photo via Getty images)

Members of South Sudan’s army who fought the Gelweng militia group today in Lakes (Photo via Getty images)

RUMBEK – The leader of Gelweng militia group which participated in the 2013 massacre of thousands of ethnic Nuer in the capital Juba has been killed today in South Sudan state of Lakes, residents have told Sudans Post.

Mondiar Maker was reportedly killed following a standoff with government troops after declaring that he was joining Kerbino Wol’s 7th October Movement which was formed last week.

“That is true. Commander Monydiar has been killed. He has been terrorizing the army for many years. He has been finally killed after deciding to join Kerbino Wol,” one source said.

Monydiar is one of several ethnic Dinka militia commanders who participated in the 2013 massacre against thousands of Nuer civilians in Juba.

report by the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan in 2015 concluded that the government in the world’s youngest country had a higher hand in the killing of ethnic Nuer which began on December 15, 2013 and continued for a few weeks.

The report mentioned Gelweng and Mathiang Anyoor as the execution machine used to execute orders from the higher body of the authorities.

South Sudan tells Ethiopia to stay out of its relations with Egypt

South Sudan Minister of Defence Angelina Teny sits during the swearing-in ceremony of the Transitional Cabinet Ministers at the State House in Juba, South Sudan, on March 16, 2020. [Photo via Getty Images]

South Sudan Minister of Defence Angelina Teny sits during the swearing-in ceremony of the Transitional Cabinet Ministers at the State House in Juba, South Sudan, on March 16, 2020. [Photo via Getty Images]

JUBA – South Sudan’s defense minister Angelina Teny has said that it was up to her country’s government to offer military base to Egypt and not Ethiopia saying the country’s foreign relations cannot be decided by a foreign country.

This comes after the Ethiopian government warned President Salva Kiir of offering military base to Egypt which the Ethiopians believes would be used as a launching pad for attacks against Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) by Egypt.

Speaking during a meeting at Bilpam following her return to work on Tuesday, the South Sudan defense minister said Ethiopia cannot define the country’s relations with its friends such as Egypt or any other country.

“The Ethiopians have threatened us that if we give our friends in Egypt a base, they will strike us,” Teny said.

“But, where in the world a country’s foreign relations are defined by a foreign country?” she asked.

“All in all, Ethiopia will not define our relations with Egypt. If they have issues, they should not think that we should also have issues with Egypt. It is up to the government of the Republic of South Sudan to do what it wants with its friends.”

Prominent businesswoman Achai Wiir gifts praised policeman with car

George Kenyi who has been given a car by businesswoman Achai Wiir [Photo via Achai Wiir’s timeline]

George Kenyi who has been given a car by businesswoman Achai Wiir [Photo via Achai Wiir’s timeline]

JUBA – Achai Wiir, the prominent South Sudan businesswoman has gifted a poor South Sudan traffic police officer who has been praised for commitment to his work on busy Juba streets, with a brand new car.

George Kenyi has been standing in the hot Juba sun from the earlier morning hours to late night to coordinate traffic in a city where traffic lights are rare.

In a social media Facebook post, Wiir said she was offered “small” car to a man many believes has been “forgotten” by the government.

“Mr. George Kenyi has won everyone’s heart in Juba including me. For those who came across him, this gentleman without any doubts is the only traffic officer in Juba who executes his duties diligently with profession and passion,” the businesswoman wrote in a post seen by Sudans Post.

“Kenyi deserves an award for committing and dedicating himself to his job regardless of the disturbing challenges that come forth. And for that matter, I’m going to reward him with a small car as an appreciation for his nationalism. .

“The car will play a big role to him; commute from his house to the workplace and also for emergency purposes and many others.”

Achai Wiir has been praised for her well gestures of promoting peace among South Sudanese and has been gifting artists who promise to sing for peace in the country and has also been helping those who seek treatment but could not afford.

She owns a modeling company in the country’s capital and has got a large number of fans.

South Sudan president, deputy blame each other on states deadlock

Photo: South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny

Photo: South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny

JUBA – South Sudan parties to the revitalized peace agreement led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his first deputy Dr. Riek Machar Teny have both blamed each for the delay in the formation of states governments.

The parties have been on negotiation to form state governments but disagreement over who takes what has hampered those efforts.

The press secretary for president Salva Kiir Ateny Wek Ateny confirmed that there was still no solution to the states impasse and blamed the SPLM-IO for the deadlock.

“The SPLM-IO is to blame for the delay in the issue of states,” Ateny was quoted by Radio Tamazuj.

James Gatdet Dak, the press secretary for First Vice President Machar said the deadlock was still there but blamed President Salva Kiir’s side for the delay.

“Because there was a deadlock, the matter is in front of IGAD. So, we are still waiting for IGAD to respond,” said Gatdet.

General James Koang Chuol rewarded senior army Job

South Sudan former SPLA-IO deputy chief of staff for administration and finance and the new SSPDF deputy chief of defense forces for training General James Koang Chuol Ranley (Photo via Getty Images)

South Sudan former SPLA-IO deputy chief of staff for administration and finance and the new SSPDF deputy chief of defense forces for training General James Koang Chuol Ranley (Photo via Getty Images)

JUBA – General James Koang Chuol Ranley, the former SPLA-IO deputy chief of staff for administration who abandoned Machar’s SPLM-IO earlier this year has been rewarded with a senior army job by President Salva Kiir who is also the commander-in-chief of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF).

General James Koang Chuol said in February that the SPLM-IO was being turned into a family property after Dr. Riek Machar, the now First Vice President, nominated for the appointment of his wife as the minister of defense.

This afternoon, president Kiir appointed him as the deputy army chief for training fulfilling speculations that he was being considered by the South Sudanese head of state for a senior position in the South Sudan army.

Beside General James Koang Chuol appointment, Kiir also restructured the SSPDF command, according to the independent Nyamilepedia website, as follow!

The order also restructured the army command as follow:

1 – Gen. Johnson Juma Okot – chief of defense forces

2 – Lt. Gen. Chol Thon Balok – Deputy chief of defense forces

3 – Lt. Gen. Charles Madut Akol – Inspector general (IG)

4 – Lt. Gen. Santino Deng Wol – Administration and finance

5 – Lt. Gen. Thoi Chany Reat – Logistics and Procurement

6 – Lt. Gen. Peter Dor – Riverine

7 – Lt. Gen. Rin Tueny Mabor – Chief of military intelligence

8 – Lt. Gen. Marshal Stephen Bababen – Military Operations

9 – Lt. Gen. Malual Majok Chiengkuac Jok – Moral Orientation and Chaplainship

10 – Lt. Gen. Butruce Bol Bol – Ground Forces

11 – Lt. Gen. James Koang Chuol – Training

12 – Maj. Gen. Samson Mabior – Air force

UN appreciates inspiring Sri Lankan service in South Sudan

File: UNMISS troops in South Sudan

File: UNMISS troops in South Sudan

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recognized Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Aviation Unit in South Sudan at a colorful medal ceremony recently.

The UN Medal Awarding Ceremony of 4th Contingent of Sri Lanka Aviation Unit at UNMISS in was held Wednesday (May 20) at the Sri Lanka Aviation Unit Hangar premises in Bor.

During the ceremony 19 Officers and 85 Other Ranks received UN Peacekeeping Medals for UNMISS. Three Officers and 17 Other Ranks were awarded with Certificates of Commendations by the Force Commander and the Sector Commander in appreciation of their valuable and meritorious services rendered to the UNMISS.

Brigadier General Mohammad Jahangir Alam, the Sector Commander (Sector East) graced the occasion as the Chief Guest.

In addition, Ms. Deborah Schein (Head of Field Office of UN) and Mr. Liban Hajji (Field Administrative Officer of UN) also participated for the event as Special Guests of Honor.

The helicopter deployment is tasked to carry out VIP and troop transportation, transportation of food and equipment, domestic flying and medical evacuation in South Sudan, in support of the overall UN mandate for that nation.

My Personal opinion on the defamation case against Meen Gabriel Chol

By  Arech Deng Akook

Photop: South Sudan National Security Headquarters where suspects accused of defamation are held

Photop: South Sudan National Security Headquarters where suspects accused of defamation are held

OPINION – First and foremost, I would like to make dear readership know what the defamation means. Legally, defamation (sometimes known as calumny, vilification, libel, slander or traducement) is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation and usually constitutes a tort or crime. In several countries, communicating a true statement can also be considered defamation. However, this rule is not applicable in South Sudan because it’s a common law country

Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed. Some common law jurisdictions also distinguish between spoken defamation, called slander, and defamation in other media such as printed words or images, called libel. In the United States, false light laws protect against statements which are not technically false but are misleading.

In some jurisdictions, defamation is treated as a crime rather than a civil wrong. The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled in 2012 that the libel law of one country, the Philippines, was inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as urging that “State parties [to the Covenant] should consider the decriminalization of libel”.As such, I personally assume and suggest that defamation should be treated as a civil wrong rather than a crime because South Sudan is a member state to the  United Nations ( because defamation is not criminalized in UN Charter).

A person who defames another may be called a “defamer”, “libeler”, “slanderer” or rarely a “famacide”. The term libel is derived from the Latin libellus (literally “small book”, or “booklet”). And if I’m to relate my argument with the current case, I think this case will centre much on libel because because the dependant is said to have published the statement on his personal Facebook page; which is in  a permanent form.

But not to dwell much on the introduction of this case before me, I think it is wise enough to introduce the readerships to the ingredients for defamation which are here briefly elaborated.

Defamation, whether libel or slander, is the making public of a false statement about a person that causes damage to their reputation. The majority of defendants in defamation, libel, and slander actions are publishers and newspapers, and to a lesser extent television broadcasters.

Broadly there are four elements that the plaintiff is required to prove in a defamation lawsuit, whether for libel (a defamatory written statement, for example in a newspaper or other publication) or slander (a defamatory spoken statement.) These are as follows:

1 – The statement, which must be about another person, must be false.

2 – The statement must be ‘published’ to a third party, who cannot also be the person who is being defamed. Publishing in this context does not mean that it must be printed, but purely that the statement has to be ‘made available’ to someone other than the person about whom the statement was made.

3 – If the nature of the statement is ‘of public concern’ the person who has published it must be at least liable in negligence. Public figures who seek to prove that they have been defamed must prove an additional element under the First Amendment of the US Constitution, that in publishing the statement the defendant was acting with ‘actual malice’ (by publishing something they know to be a lie) or at least to have a total disregard for whether the statement is true or not.

4 – The person about whom the defamatory statement is made must be ‘damaged’ by the statement. In some states, it is sufficient to establish that the plaintiff suffered ‘mental anguish’ as opposed to ‘damage.’

Hence, whether the above stated elements are met remains to be seen based on facts that SSNYU presented to the court and how luckily are they going to convince the judge.

HOWEVER, WHO CAN SUE FOR DEFAMATION

In order to be actionable, a defamatory statement must be “of and concerning” the plaintiff. This means that a defamation plaintiff must show that a reasonable person would understand that the statement was referring to him or her. Of course, if a blog post or online article identifies the plaintiff by name, this requirement will be easily met. The plaintiff need not be specifically named, however, if there are enough identifying facts that any (but not necessarily every) person reading or hearing it would reasonably understand it to refer to the plaintiff. For example, a statement that ” policeman who recently had an auto accident on Konyokonyo-Juba road had been seen drinking alcohol while on duty” would likely be actionable because the policeman could be identified based on his recent accident. As such the posts made by the defendant in this case were exactly directed to the Nation Youth Union But, is this illustration applicable to the Group libel? Big NO!

GROUP LIBEL

Accordingly, defamatory statements about a group or class of people generally are not actionable by individual members of that group or class. There are two exceptions to this general rule that exist when: the group or class is so small that the statements are reasonably understood to refer to the individual in question; or the circumstances make it reasonable to conclude that the statement refers particularly to the individual in question.

As to the first exception — statements about a small group — courts have often held that an individual group member can bring a claim for defamation for statements directed at a group of 25 or fewer people. The 25-person line is not a hard-and-fast rule, but rather the way courts commonly distinguish between a group small enough for statements about the whole group to be imputed to individual members and one that is too large to support such an imputation. With the above mentioned rule, I’m made to believe that National Youth Union has no strong ground to sue the defendant because the Union itself is comprised of all South sudanese Youth who made up to 72% of the total population in the country; which is a larger to the the given exception!

The case of Neiman-Marcus v. Lait, 13 F.R.D. 311 (S.D.N.Y. 1952), provides a good illustration of this general rule. In that case, the defendants wrote that “most of the [Neiman-Marcus] sales staff are fairies” and that some of the company’s saleswomen were “called girls.” Fifteen of the 25 salesmen and 30 of the 382 saleswomen at the store brought suit for defamation. Applying New York and Texas law, the court held that the salesmen had a valid cause of action, but the saleswomen did not. Even though the statement referred to “most of” the salesmen, without naming names or specifying further, the statement could be understood to refer to any individual member of this small group. The group of saleswomen, however, was so large that a statement that some of them were “call girls” would not be understood as referring to any individual member of the group. So since the Union is comprised of about 170s honourable members and million of them are general Assembly members; this is unreasonable size to claim defamation. However, if anyone of this executive committee feels like s/he is targeted by Meen’s writing, s/he should at least initiate lawsuit by himself against the defendant but not in the name of the Union

As to the second exception to the rule against group libel — when circumstances point to a particular individual — courts have allowed defamation claims where the statement is facially broad, but the context makes it clear that it referred to the plaintiff. For example, Bill Blogger may be able to claim defamation based on the statement “all bloggers who attended the most recent city council meeting payed bribes to the mayor,” where Bill is the only blogger who attended the meeting and readers will therefore understand the statement as being a thinly veiled indictment of him. Therefore, I personally think that Mr chairperson of SSNYU should bring the case on his own name if he thinks he is denied of a good name because Mr Meen Gabriel made the right-thinking members of the society to believe that Mr chairperson has embezzled Union’s funds but I think he will narrowly win the case if he has hired very competent lawyer otherwise, he can still struggle to win the case because he is not personally defamed but he is criticized which doesn’t amount to defamation.

A company or organization can be a defamation plaintiff. In fact, the largest jury verdict every awarded in a libel case came in a case brought by a business plaintiff but not by the public bodies.

CAN THE GOVERNMENT ENTITIES SUE CRITICAL CITIZENS FOR DEFAMATION?

Since National Youth Union is a registered National Youth body under the ministry of Youth and sport which is clearly stipulated in certain provision of SSNYU General provision, 2019.

Two recent decisions arising out of  Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority v. Smith, provide some important judicial guidance regarding Ontario’s relatively new “Anti-SLAPP” provisions in the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43. This article considers the Court’s dismissal of the defamation actions brought by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (“NPCA”) and others against a private citizen who had raised concerns regarding the Authority’s governance pursuant to s.137.1(3): 2017 ONSC.

WHAT ARE LAWSUITS AGAINST PUBLIC PARTICIPATION (“SLAPP”)?

Strategic lawsuits against public participation are designed to silence criticisms by burdening the critic with the threat or actual costs of defending a lawsuit. In 2016, the Protection of Public Participation Act came into force creating Anti-SLAPP provisions in the Courts of Justice Act. The purpose of these provisions has been described as protecting persons who speak on matters of public interest, not only from liability and tort, but also from being sued in tort: see United Soils Management Limited v. Mohammad, 2017 ONSC 4450.

NIAGARA PENINSULA CONSERVATION AUTHORITY V. SMITH

Retired Air Force Major Ed Smith is a citizen and taxpayer residing in the territory under the jurisdiction of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (“NPCA”). In 2016, Smith compiled a report called “A Call for Accountability at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority” alleging corruption, contract swapping, and other improprieties in the governance of the NPCA and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Foundation (“NPCF”), a charitable Foundation created by the NPCA to raise money. Smith submitted his reports to the Niagara Regional Police, on the basis that it evinced some level of corruption, and to the Regional Municipality of Niagara, raising concerns of conflict of interest, favoritism, and improper awarding of contracts.

In response to Smith’s filing of his report, lawyers for NPCA wrote to Major Smith threatening to sue him for disseminating the report and demanded that Major Smith: deliver a full and unqualified apology and retraction; deliver a written undertaking not to distribute the report to any other person or publically refer to it in the future or make similar defamatory statements; and provide the identity of the authors of the document.

Shortly thereafter, an article was published in Postmedia referring to Smith’s report and a letter from NPCA’s lawyers. Following further correspondence and press involvement, NPCA and others impugned in Smith’s report brought defamation actions against Smith claiming damages against him. Smith moved for an Order dismissing both defamation lawsuits brought against him under s.137.1 of the Courts of Justice Act.

Justice Ramsay granted Smith’s motion and dismissed both defamation lawsuits. In so doing, his Honour provided some important judicial commentary on the application of the Anti-SLAPP provisions. Justice Ramsay clarified that once a defendant shows that the subject matter of the defamation claim arises from communication related to a matter of public interest, the action must be dismissed unless the plaintiff satisfies the Court of the following three things:

1 – there are grounds to believe that the proceeding has substantial merit;

2 – There are grounds to believe that the moving party has no valid defence in the proceeding; and

3 – the harm likely to be or have been suffered by the plaintiff is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting that expression.

In relation to the first question of whether the subject matter of the claim arises from a communication related to a matter of public interest, Justice Ramsay made the following findings in the case before him: it was “beyond question that the expressions in question relate to a matter of public interest, to wit: the governance of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. It is a body funded by public money. Its action or inaction in its sphere of responsibility can affect public welfare. It has been the subject of controversy”; and in relation to the NPCF, “the affairs of a registered charity constitute a matter of public interest. A registered charity linked to a public body such as the Authority is all the more a matter of concern to the public.”

With respect to the “substantial merit” criterion, the Court held that there were no grounds to believe that NPCA’s action had substantial merit “because as a government entity, it has no right to sue an individual for defamation”. In this regard, Justice Ramsay concluded: it is clear that a conservation authority such as NPCA is a government entity; as a government entity, NPCA “cannot sue an individual in defamation for criticizing it. The Authority has no cause of action at law and therefore cannot show grounds to believe that its action has substantial merit” ; see also, Montague (Township) v. Page, [2006] O.J. No. 331, at paras. 29-30; Halton Hills (Town) v. Kerouac(2006), 80 O.R. (3d) 577);  public participation and comment on the governance and administration of conservation authorities is “all the more important” due to the structure and nature of conservation authorities and their governance in this province

Turning to the other plaintiffs, private individuals and entities, the Court also dismissed their defamation actions against Smith. Justice Ramsay held that Major Smith had “an obvious and credible defence: qualified privilege, together with a lack of malice” given the context of the communications in the report submitted to Niagara Regional Police and the Municipal Council. This case provides important clarity as to the inability of a government entity to bring an action in defamation against a private citizen who is critical of that public body. Justice Ramsay’s decision also makes it clear that public criticism and commentary on the governance and administration of public entities, such as conservation authorities, is a matter of public interest, regarding which public participation should be expected and protected in accordance with the purposes of the Anti-SLAPP provisions of the Courts of Justice Act.

Therefore, I would like to buy the above judgement and correlate it to the current case in hand because all Meen Gabriel’s writings are matters of public concern which aim to ensuring transparency, accountability and reliability in the Union. In nutshell, Public institutions can not be defamed and hence this case is null and void abi nitio and as such, it should be dismissed.

NOTE: I’m just giving my legal opinion but not a political support!

The writer is a student of Law, University of Juba. And he can be reached at akookarechdeng@gmail.com


The views expressed in the ‘OPINIONS & ANALYSIS’ section of the Sudans Post are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not this website. If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email us here.

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