South Sudan launches human rights plan

14 Jun 2012

South Sudan launches human rights plan

13 June 2012 - Lack of laws and weak institutions made promoting human rights in South Sudan a difficult task, Vice-President Riek Machar said today in Juba.

Speaking during the launch of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission's three-year strategic plan, the vice-president said human rights breaches were more likely to occur in a post-conflict country, where legal justice was the victim of "system meltown".

"We established South Sudan...out of a liberation struggle," Mr. Machar said. "And a liberation struggle is always accompanied by violence or war. In a situation of war ... human rights are violated because systems break down."

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Rule of Law unit head Amanda Serumaga said the strategic plan had been drawn up to remedy that situation.

"This strategic plan represents ... positive promoting and protecting human rights in the Republic of South Sudan," Ms. Serumaga said, adding that it was challenging and arduous to transition from war to peace with consistence and deeply rooted respect for human rights.

Among other aims, the plan would seek to promote respect for human rights; integrate human rights into national laws, public policy and the justice system; and foster inclusive societal attitudes, noted UNMISS Human Rights Director Richard Bennett.

But he stressed that the Commission must find ways of increasing available resources, which had been reduced under the government's austerity budget, by providing concrete information to partners in garnering more support.

Ms. Serumaga observed that South Sudan had already made necessary commitments in many respects to international and national human rights instruments. "The challenge remains translating these commitments into the protection and promotion of rights in the everyday lives of citizens. And where they are violated, (the Commission) ensures robust systems and institutions that provide remedies."

What was needed from both the commission and government was political will to ensure the plan was effectively implemented, said the executive director for South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy, Boutros Biel.

With implementation of the strategic plan, the UNDP expects that 70 percent of the country's population will be made aware of human rights issues and the number of successfully resolved complaints rise 40 percent by 2015, Ms. Serumaga said.