UN gifts new holding facility for female offenders to authorities in Wau
A newly built detention centre in Wau will provide young female offenders with a safe space where they are separated from adults accused of crimes.
The female juvenile detention centre is the first of its kind in South Sudan and was funded as a Quick Impact Project by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The centre was built by the Nuba Mountain Association, a non-profit organisation based in Wau, with support from the prison service and the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, UNMISS Head of Field Office in Wau, Winnie Babihuga, said the centre would provide a safe and secure facility for young offenders, many of whom would have previously had to share space in custody with adults.
“This centre is yet another sign that UNMISS is there to partner with communities and is a credible partner,” said Winnie Babihuga.
The female juvenile detention centre is just one of a number of projects designed to “trigger the desire and affirmation of peace in South Sudan,” she said. This was important so that people currently living in displacement camps were able to return to their homes to live safely, peacefully, and with dignity.
Winnie Babihuga encouraged young female offenders to use their time at the centre as an opportunity to rethink their actions and change their lives for the better.
“It is an opportunity for you to think again and think about going back to your homes,” she said. “We do not want anybody released from these centres to go back to the streets, to go back to crime.”
The centre will be operated by the Wau State Justice Ministry and supervised by the first grade judge for the area, Yai Anyuor Akot.
He congratulated UNMISS for establishing the detention centre. However, he said that young offenders should be treated as victims needing rehabilitation and the chance to reform rather than as criminals.
The detention centre can accommodate up to 60 female offenders under the age of 17. It will serve as a reformatory centre, providing young offenders access to education as well as programs to help them find jobs.
The Wau Education Minister, Rougania Madut Abdalla, described the handover of the centre as a “great milestone” that would help efforts by local authorities to deliver safe and secure justice services to young offenders.