Human rights training provided to opposition officers in Eastern Equatoria
Since its formation in 2013, South Sudan’s main opposition force, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-iO), has wanted to cultivate a stronger professional culture amongst its troops, making more efforts to respect human rights.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan, always keen to oblige, has recently aided this pursuit of knowledge at the Irube cantonment site in Eastern Equatoria.
“You must go and inform your junior officers about all you have learnt here. It is an order,” Major General Placid Koks Komackech told his comrades in arms at the end of a one-day workshop on this vital topic.
The event, attended by nearly 40 senior officers based at the cantonment site, covered topics such as conflict-related sexual violence, international humanitarian law, and violations committed against children during armed conflict.
The words uttered by speakers that day inspired a solemn atmosphere amongst participants: they were not meant to be taken lightly.
“We have a duty to carry out the stipulations agreed to in previous action plans,” said senior officer Angelina Philip Oting, referring to a series of documents drawn up between government and opposition forces together with UN counterparts to promote awareness of universal human rights. “Violations must stop now if we want to have sustainable peace.”
Human rights officer Anthony Nwapa praised to dedication shown by the workshop participants.
“This has been a very good exchange, I appreciate your frankness and your commitment. There is a change in attitude and mindset. We will continue to collaborate with you,” he said.
The forum is the first in a series of human rights trainings for the forces in opposition. Fulfilling the UN mission’s mandate, sessions will be held throughout the transitional period, scheduled to begin with the establishment of a transitional government of national unity on 12 November, of the peace process.