8 September 2010 – In a bid to improve respect for human rights in Southern Sudan, the UNMIS human rights office held a two-day workshop in Juba for senior officials of the regional government, the Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) and representatives of official human rights bodies at the state and regional levels.
UNMIS Human Rights Officer Dennis Okot said the training sought to give government officials a better understanding of human rights concepts and the national and international laws that safeguard them.
"There are several human rights concerns under civil and political rights in the south (such as) access to justice, prolonged detention, and freedom of expression," he said.
"We envisage that these officials will respect, fulfill, and protect human rights as a state obligation."
Besides the SSPS, the participants were drawn from three Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) ministries -- Youth, Sports, and Recreation, Information and Broadcasting, and Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development. The Central Equatoria State Human Rights Committee and the Southern Sudan Human Rights Commission were also represented at the workshop.
"This training is applicable to our human rights situation in Southern Sudan," said SSPS Director of Legal Affairs Col. Samson Lukwasa. "I have learnt how to trace violations, what methods to use in writing the report, and when to apply which mechanisms of reporting."
Mr. Okot told the gathering about an innovative system for reporting violations of human rights that was created by the UN General Assembly four years ago.
Known as Universal Periodic Review, the system requires all of the UN's 192 member-states to submit reports to the UN Human Rights Council about human rights violations in their territories for review every four years.
The workshop also featured briefings on recent human rights reports from foreign countries like the United Kingdom, Kenya and South Africa.
"I have learned a lot from the experiences of the other countries," said Col. Lukwasa. "I now see this workshop as a preparation for proper and timely reporting next year."
Stephen Hang Ilario of the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development proposed the creation of a technical committee consisting of workshop participants who could advise GoSS ministries on human rights-related issues in the future.