UNMISS sensitizes senior commanders of SSPDF on international human rights law
Senior commanders of the South Sudan Peoples Defence Forces (SSPDF) have been sensitized on international human rights laws to guide them in preventing crimes associated with sexual violence by uniformed personnel in Eastern Equatoria.
The training session, held in Torit, benefited some 50 SSPDF commanders.
“It was a useful exercise and many of us realized that there were international laws governing what we are trying to do here locally, which is prevent any of our ranks from commiting sexual exploitation or abuse,” said Major Ali Wani, one of the commanders of the SSPDF Division 7, located in Torit. “The course also taught us to deal with civilians who may be survivors of such crimes with the dignity, respect and psychosocial support they deserve.”
Similar sessions are organized annually by the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
“We schedule such sessions regularly to make you aware of your responsibilities to the people of South Sudan,” said Anthony Nwapa, a Human Rights Officer with the UN peacekeeping mission and one of the course facilitators. “If the rights of people are respected, they will be happy, and when they are happy, there is peace,” he added.
The day-long workshop was a refresher course for SSPDF commanders of their obligation to the joint communiques signed between the government of South Sudan and the UN include compliance with the commitment to address conflict-related sexual violence; and approaching the protection of civilians in a professional manner pursuant to established military codes of conduct.
“All of us, the soldiers working within the South Sudan Peoples Defense Forces have come here with our senior commanders, to make sure we are conversant with how to protect citizens according to internationally accepted standards,” said Major John Matiok, a participant.
The UNMISS Human Rights Division aims to inform the armed forces in South Sudan on ways to maintain a good record of professional conduct, monitored by the international community.
Countries that do not adhere to internationally accepted human rights standards are listed for committing crimes against humanity which are punishable with sanctions; sentencing of violators through international criminal courts; stopping military support to the violating country and many other punitive measures.