SPLA learns human rights in Western Equatoria

1 Mar 2012

SPLA learns human rights in Western Equatoria

29 February 2012 - Aiming to boost knowledge of human rights in the military, UNMISS completed a three-day training session for Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) officers today in the Western Equatoria State capital of Yambio.

The training, conducted in close collaboration with UNMISS Yambio Military Liaison Officers, the state Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Forum of Civil Society Groups, was attended by 30 senior SPLA officers based in the town.

In closing remarks, Major Joseph Ohia, Chief of Moral Orientation of the SPLA8th Infantry Bridgade, said the workshop would help officers learn human rights skills in dealing with soldiers and civilians.

"Since South Sudan has become independent, it is very important for us to learn what human rights are and ... (the) use of force as an army," Maj. Ohia said.

UNMISS Human Rights Officer Mary Bindi said the training aimed to emphasize human rights and rule of law with respect to the Security Code of Conduct.

"Some of the officers lack basic knowledge on human rights in a way that has been witnessed in their actions and omissions," Ms. Bindi said.

Topics included democracy, human rights and the SPLA, SPLA human rights and civil disorder, SPLA and rule of law, humanitarian law and human rights implementation in armed conflicts, sexual and gender-based violence, children's rights and the role of civil society in protecting and promoting human rights.

Bashir Ahmed, state Chairperson of the Human Rights Forum of Civil Society groups, said the training should enable SPLA officers to identify their roles in protecting and promoting human rights.

"When members of the military have enough awareness on the meaning and applications of human rights, they will promote and protect (them), as they are the main actors in human rights protection," he said.

Training participant Maj. Akuot Aiom Akuot said the training increased his knowledge on the fundamental rights of citizens and prisoners of war.

"We learned many things, like how to protect the rights and safety of prisoners of war without killing them, during and after war," the major said. "We also learned how to protect civilians from any type of threat and the rights of children, and how to avoid recruiting them into the army."

The training, which falls under UNMISS Human Rights section mandate, will be carried out among the military all 10 states of South Sudan.