In Kapoeta, journalists and civil society activists learn more about civic and political rights
“Today, I became more familiar with how to advocate for civic education to help my compatriots become more aware of their political and civil rights,” said Juma Tikol, Chairperson of a network of civil society organizations in Kapoeta, Eastern Equatoria State.
Capacity building, enhancing civic political space, and highlighting the crucial role activists can play ahead of the nation’s anticipated elections next year were the focus of a four-day training conducted by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“As defenders of citizens’ rights, we urge communities to speak up about and for what is affecting their lives. Fear among many community members, especially youth, is currently preventing them from loudly expressing their views,” explained Elizabeth Lochapio, a journalist working for Radio Singaita.
More than 25 women and men participated in the workshop, which was co-facilitated by partners from the Union of Journalists of South Sudan and South Sudan Human Rights Defenders. Among other broad-ranging topics, sessions tackled human rights, media ethics and responsibilities, advocacy, democracy, security incidents and threats, and strategies for effective lobbying.
“This is an important learning opportunity. We need more of these meetings to increase awareness about citizens’ role in shaping the future of their country,” opined Oyet Patrick Charles, President of the Union of Journalist of South Sudan.
Elia Lokuda Lonyia, Mayor of Kapoeta South Municipal Council, also appreciated the initiative.
“It helps us in reaching out to communities and familiarize them with their rights and responsibilities. It also gives us a platform to listen to and understand their concerns and needs,” he affirmed.
In light of the successful Kapoeta gathering, the peacekeeping mission’s Human Rights Division hopes to replicate the experience in other parts of Eastern Equatoria and beyond.
“This workshop turned out to become very interactive, with all participants gaining knowledge and exchange views, experiences and best practices,” stated Anthony Nwapa, a Human Rights Officer.