Stop human rights abuses in Eastern Equatoria, says UN

27 Jun 2012

Stop human rights abuses in Eastern Equatoria, says UN

26 June 2012 - Civil society groups should join hands to stop human rights violations in Eastern Equatoria State, a UN official told participants at an UNMISS training in the capital Torit today.

"You should use the knowledge you are going to learn from this training as a tool to defend the rights of your people, not individually but as a unit," said UNMISS State Coordinator Winnie Babihuga, opening the four-day human rights workshop.

The training to promote human rights drew 40 civil society representatives from around the state.

Prevalent human rights abuses in the state include killings and abductions related to cattle raiding, gender-based violence and forced as well as early marriage, according to the civil society organizations chairperson, Jimmy Killang.

"We have limited knowledge, finance and technical support to address the vast human rights violations in our state," Mr. Killang said. "We need more trainings of this kind to improve the human rights status in the state."

Participant Abonga Michael said that he hoped to learn advocacy skills to promote human rights with the government, especially its security organs, from the training.
"There are illegal detentions, domestic gender-based violence, mainly by drunkard husbands, (and) early marriages," said Mr. Michael, who works at the South Sudan Development Agency (SSDA) in Torit. "We should stand firm and talk about it".

Another participant, Tabaria Scovia from Nimule, said early marriages were common in the area.

"Young girls, including those under age, are forced to marry men much older than themselves," she said, expressing hope that knowledge she gained would help her encourage people to stop early marriages and send children to school instead.

The training aims to teach participants basic human rights principles and reporting mechanisms for violations. It also seeks to strengthen relationships between different civil society groups operating in the state, said UNMISS Human Rights Officer Marie-Amelie Ndayisenga.

Mr. Killang requested UNMISS to conduct a follow up to ensure that knowledge participants acquired during the training was put into practice.