12 May 2014 - To help promote human rights among local communities, UNMISS recently conducted training on monitoring and reporting for 21 Civil Society Organization (CSO) representatives in the Lakes State capital Rumbek.
“We believe that by empowering civil societies and local communities … we can achieve the objective of working together with one voice on human rights matters,” said UNMISS Human Rights Officer Priscilla Ciesay.
She said it was the role of her office to provide such support for organizations to enhance their ability to establish a monitoring and reporting system.
The head of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission for the state, Deng Main Maker, said the training was vital, as CSOs were often close to the grassroots population, making it much easier for them to transmit human rights messages.
Mr. Maker noted that overabundance of munitions had led to huge numbers of firearms being held by civilians, resulting in increased rates of inter-communal skirmishes, murder and looting.
He said a robust awareness programme was vital to ensure that victims know what and where to report.
“Cases which could constitute human rights abuses are being concealed, because women and girls fear the stigma attached to it,” he said.
Father Henry Jidudu, Coordinator for Peace and Justice in the Rumbek Catholic Diocese, said harmful cultural beliefs and traditions were a major obstacle in realizing human rights, including the right to life.
“Any culture that promotes a cycle of revenge will never bring peace,” said Fr. Jidudu. “We have to learn how to forgive and … tolerate one another to realize meaningful peace.”
He added that the tradition of punishing others for crimes committed by their relatives was outdated and had to be denounced.
“People should understand that peace does not begin from the top,” he said. “It has to begin from the bottom. Much as our leaders at the top are struggling to restore peace, we at the grassroots levels should work together, understand ourselves, and learn to peacefully coexist.”