Respect for human rights is key to development in this country, a representative of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan has told military leaders.
“The military needs to build confidence with the civilian…protect them…and ensure their rights are protected,” said Anthony Nwapa, human rights officer for UNMISS in Eastern Equatoria State.
“Because when the civilians know that you respect them, they will always collaborate with you. And when they collaborate with you, south Sudan will be a better place.”
Both government and armed opposition groups have reportedly committed crimes under international law and other human rights violations and abuses with impunity since the outbreak of the conflict in December 2013.
These include unlawful killings, forced displacements, and sexual violence, mostly in areas that experienced violence.
Many observers and aid organizations partly blamed this on illiteracy among soldiers and lack of proper training.
They say this has borne mistrust, as civilians no longer feel safe around organized forces in the country.
Speaking to 50 commanders from the South Sudan People’s defense force (SSPDF) at two-day workshop on human rights and gender-based violence, Nwapa encouraged the army leaders to read from time to time a copy of a booklet on human rights they had just received.
The event was organized by the United Nation Missions in South Sudan-Torit branch.
The workshop was aimed at imparting knowledge to military commanders to know how to protect civilians against violence and promote implementation of the September 2018 peace agreement.
Anthony added that the heads of organized forces are expected to, upon return to their stations, educate their juniors on the importance of human rights.
The workshop was attended by other state government officials, notably Becky Aya Obong, the chairperson for Human Rights Commission in Eastern Equatoria State.
She appealed to the commanders apply knowledge they have acquired from the training protect human rights in the country.