Military officers in Eastern Equatoria learn about importance of respecting human rights

unmiss south sudan eastern equatoria state splma-io human rights commanders responsibility rule of law

Military officers having their awareness on human rights principles raised. Photos: Moses Yakudu/UNMISS

2 Dec 2022

Military officers in Eastern Equatoria learn about importance of respecting human rights

Moses Yakudu/Filip Andersson

Human rights violations are common in Eastern Equatoria State and in the rest of the country. Sometimes, they are committed by members of armed forces. The Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is working hard to put an end to these unlawful practices.

“It’s your responsibility as commanders to respect and promote human rights based on what you have been learning during this training. Some of your soldiers may be doing something wrong, but as their superior, you will also be held accountable. This is called command responsibility,” said Brigadier General Okeny George Lam, a senior commander within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-iO), as he addressed his peers participating in a workshop on related topics.

Briefs on relevant sections of international human rights and humanitarian law was on the agenda of the facilitators from the peacekeeping mission, following a request from South Sudan’s military forces to raise awareness among troops, as stipulated in the revitalized peace agreement signed in 2018.

This two-day workshop targeted senior officers at the Ashwa cantonment site and also included discussions on how to prevent and report cases of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence.

“We have learnt that if we are not aware about our obligations with regards to human rights, we will be putting our commanders in danger as they will be blamed for failing to maintain control over his troops,” said Lieutenant Drichi Godfrey, who attended the training.  

According to UNMISS Human Rights Officer Anthony Nwapa, military personnel respecting fundamental freedoms and the independence of institutions like the judiciary is crucial for the future of South Sudan.

“It is the only way for you to build a nation that is just, where perpetrators are held accountable and where the rule of law prevails,” he said.