Government pledges to ratify key human rights conventions
10 December 2011 – The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) acknowledged today the urgent need to revise existing laws and enact new ones to ensure they met international human rights standards.
"We also need to ratify as soon as possible international and regional human rights instruments," said GoSS Legal Affairs Advisor Telar Ring Deng, reading a message from President Salva Kiir during International Human Rights Day celebrations in Juba.
"Top of these treaties is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Maputo Protocol," he said.
Lawrence Korbandy, South Sudan Human Rights Commission Chairperson, said the young country faced several human rights challenges.
"One such challenge is the inadequacy of laws that are appropriate for upholding the rule of law and human rights in general," he said, calling on the government to hasten the ratification and domestication of key international and regional human rights instruments.
Speaking on behalf of South Sudan's civil society organizations, Marie Lorna lauded the government for steps it had taken so far to safeguard human rights of the nation's people.
"One is free to move anywhere anytime," Ms. Lorna said. "There is freedom of worship, right to own property, fair representation and participation in the public offices, particularly in the executive branch."
She then listed a series of human rights violations by the state apparatus, which included arbitrary arrest, illegal detention without trial, torture of suspects while in detention, restriction of freedom of expression and media and forced marriages.
Ms. Lorna added that the government had failed to respect the right to life of a person and their security as well as employment of South Sudan's graduates, favouring foreigners with questionable academic papers.
In an interview with UN Radio Miraya last week, UNMISS Head of Mission Hilde F. Johnson also called on the government to hasten the ratification of human rights conventions. "South Sudan has to sign up to the critical human rights conventions, so that as a new and independent country, it is anchored in a firm foundation of human rights," said Ms. Johnson.
She added that UNMISS had a strong human rights mandate to monitor, investigate, verify and report human rights violations.
"The main way to implement this mandate is to work very closely with the government of South Sudan to ensure human rights are respected," Ms. Johnson said.