South Sudanese law enforcement personnel sensitized on human rights

unmiss human rights elections south sudan democracy civic political united nations un peacekeeping peacekeepers torit prisons

In Torit, UNMISS teamed up with state police to host a two-day sensitization for South Sudanese police and corrections officers on detainee rights ahead of this young nation's elections scheduled for December this year. Photo by Moses Yakudu/UNMISS

26 Jan 2024

South Sudanese law enforcement personnel sensitized on human rights

Moses Yakudu

EASTERN EQUATORIA - As South Sudan races to complete its democratic transition through the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections in December this year, ensuring uniformed personnel are fully aware of their role in helping uphold human rights for all citizens is vital.

This foundational issue formed the basis of a capacity building workshop facilitated by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in Torit, the capital of Eastern Equatoria state.

Some 46 officers from the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) and corrections officers participated in spirited, interactive discussions.

“This workshop has many aspects, ranging from detainee rights to the need for us to make sure that the people we serve and protect have the right to their political and civil freedoms,” said Gama Wilson Henry, a participant at the workshop.

For Gama, detainee rights are key. “There is, unfortunately, a history of prolonged detentions in our prisons and because we didn’t have enough training or knowledge; but thanks to these informative sessions we are much more familiar now about treating inmates with respect for human rights principles,” he averred.

A major reason for detention anomalies, as revealed by discussions: Improper records management.

“Suspects are often detained beyond the exact period during which the crime they are accused of is investigated because it is difficult for prosecutors and prison officials to locate their files,” revealed Karlo Atilio, an attorney.

The two-day awareness raising event was organized in partnership with SSNPS and included sessions on prisoner rights, pre-trial rights as well as effectively dealing with cases of conflict related sexual violence.

“Our motivation behind this workshop is simple: Human rights are the building block of a united nation and law enforcement personnel are instrumental in ensuring that these fundamental rights of every citizen are upheld. We, therefore, felt that this sensitization was a timely reminder, as South Sudan approaches its first post-independence elections, of your collective responsibility to ensure peaceful and inclusive polling,” stated Anthony Nwapa, the Human Rights Team Leader of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Eastern Equatoria.

Similar programmes are being run in all eight counties of the state to enhance knowledge and skills of different law enforcement institutions, local leaders, civil society organizations and communities.