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Ahead of Human Rights Day, local police officers in Wau trained on preventing human rights abuses, including violence against women

A three-day capacity building workshop held by UNMISS trained 26 officers from the South Sudan National Police Service on upholding human rights, including preventing violence against women. Photo by Dawit K. Tedla/UNMISS.

WAU - Antonina Atieno Okuta, a Human Rights Officer working with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in Wau is confident that officers from the South Sudan National Police Service here have received the training they need to implement the state police’s action plan on preventing conflict-related sexual violence.

“We had very interesting and interactive discussions on the logistical challenges faced by local police officers and how they can overcome these to effectively protect women, young girls and boys from any form of sexual violence during a three-day capacity building workshop,” she reveals.

26 local police officers attended the forum Antonina is speaking about, which was organized by the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Of these 10 officers were women.

The main aim of this initiative: To give participating officers a birds’ eye view of the legal frameworks and support available regarding any violations of human rights, including violence against women and young girls.

The course also underscored the importance of upholding the rights and dignity of all suspects when such crimes are being investigated by law enforcement professionals.

 “These three days have been invaluable for me,” said Sergeant Daniel Majok Akech. “Such cases, especially those linked with abuse of women, are very sensitive and need to be handled properly if we are to bring perpetrators to justice. I myself have firsthand knowledge of how difficult it is to investigate such cases and I had little knowledge of the right way to go about things. This training has opened my eyes and taught me about international human rights standards, South Sudanese support structures in place as well as global humanitarian law. I am grateful because it will surely make me a better police officer plus enable me to build trust among the communities I am tasked to serve and protect,” he stated passionately.

For Sergeant Luisia Joseph, another participant, the training has proved to be enlightening in terms of building bridges with community members.

“We are here to make people feel safe and protected,” said Sergeant Joseph. “We won’t be able to do that unless we are equipped with a full range of tools and tactics. Community members should look to law enforcement as allies and not fear us. After all, our job is solely focused on serving their best interests.

The workshop is part of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s mandated goals to prevent and monitor human rights violations across South Sudan.