Human Rights Commissioner Pillay pledges to support Jonglei women

11 May 2012

Human Rights Commissioner Pillay pledges to support Jonglei women

10 May 2012 - Five women in the Jonglei State capital of Bor shared their experiences with abuse, child abductions, insecurity and forced marriages today with a UN human rights chief visiting the area.

Speaking in her native language, Anyuak tribal member Mary Philip told High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay about difficulties mothers were facing in claiming children recovered from abductors.

"I want to say to you, you are not alone," said Ms. Pillay, who was meeting with civil society and women's groups during her one-day visit to the area. "Your situation is very serious but you are not alone because women all over the world are struggling to get their rights."

In an earlier meeting, Jonglei Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk had told Ms. Pillay, who is on a five-day visit to South Sudan, that deaths resulting from cattle raiding, woman and child abduction and forced marriages were human rights violations the state government was working to eliminate.

Mr. Manyang noted that over 32 abducted children had been recovered by the Sudan People's Liberation Army, which was leading a civilian disarmament process in the state. But he added that lack of a DNA testing facility had hindered verification of biological parents.

The governor asked the commissioner for a legal aid centre to protect the rights of women and children and a DNA testing facility to help them identify rightful parents of children recovered from abductors.

Commissioner Pillay assured the women that their rights were laid down in the country's constitution and bill of rights as well international declarations and treaties drawn up by all governments, including South Sudan's.

She said the UN would support them through women and child protection advisors, who would build their capacities in human rights.

"You have my 100 per cent support," Ms Pillay said. "You have already started on some very good steps. One, you have gotten together in women's organizations. Two, you are speaking out, which is a very important step."

Commissioner Pillay said she would raise their requests with UN Secretary-General Ban Kii Moon and UNICEF.