Community leaders in Yambio receive training on human rights and fair trials in local courts
More than 20 traditional leaders in and around Yambio in Western Equatoria State, acquired new skills on adhering to internationally accepted human rights standards while handing out verdicts on cases that fall within their jurisdiction.
“As a community head, I wasn’t very well grounded in basic human rights,” reveals Margret Peter, a female leader from the Akorongbodi area in Yambio. “After attending this workshop I’m far more aware of the things I need to take into consideration when I’m delivering a judgement. Moreover, I’m also better equipped to refer a case to a higher court if needed.”
The UNMISS-facilitated workshop received praise from the acting paramount of Yambio county, Edward Mombasa, who said he believed that such training is vital since free and fair trials form the bedrock of building a durable, inclusive peace from the grassroots level.
“Presiding over fair trials ensures that disputes are mitigated well before they escalate into violence,” stated Mr. Mombasa. “It’s important that every official at a local court understands the basic tenets of human rights, remains immune to all forms of bribery and judges each case impartially,” he continues. “This is essential to build community confidence in our traditional courts.”
For his part, Albert Mugabushaka, UNMISS Human Rights Officer, raised the issue of fair judgements in cases involving gender-based violence. “Across South Sudan, women and young girls are often gravely affected by sexual violence. Many traditional courts are not equipped with the resources to properly investigate and rule on such incidents, so I’d like to urge community leaders to encourage anyone who lodges such a complaint to avail of all possible remedies, including appealing to higher courts.”
This day-long workshop was hosted by the Human Rights Division of the peacekeeping mission.