As part of its ongoing capacity-building support to rule of law institutions in South Sudan, UNMISS conducted a four-day workshop for 25 officers working with the National Prison Service. Photo by Carole Abou Farah/UNMISS
JUBA – With the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, gearing up for its first-ever free, fair, credible elections next year, upholding the rule of law is critical.As the country’s partner for peace, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), is helping supplement efforts by building capacities among local law enforcement interlocuters. A recent three-day training in Juba for 25 officers from the National Prisons Service and the Juvenile Reformatory School is one example of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s interventions. Aimed at corrections officers working on issues of prisoner reform and eventual reintegration into society, the interactive workshop was focused on sharing best practices to ensure that underage and female offenders do not return to a life of crime after serving out their sentences. “With 70 per cent of its population under 30 years of age, South Sudan has a high rate of petty crime committed by adolescents and they constitute a large population in our detention centers. We want to make sure that officers dealing with underage offenders are equipped with the skills required and mandated by internationally accepted standards. Our goal is to reform them so that they can be productive members of society. After all young people are the future of this country,” explained Phaello Malataliana, Deputy Head of Corrections with UNMISS. Aidah Mnyolmo, Chief Inspector of Prisons working with UNMISS adds to this. “Juvenile offenders are vulnerable and they need to be treated in a specific way that gives them hope to embrace a different, more positive life path. We have, therefore, designed this training around practical aspects related to the admission-reform-release protocol, which we believe will lead to successful social reintegration,” she stated. Major Simon Kute from the Prison Reformatory School agrees. “Education is key in the Reformatory School,” he revealed. “We teach them to be upstanding citizens and provide them with the background to successfully complete their sentences and lead lives of harmony within their communities. Today’s training is a complementary process where we can refine and add to our knowledge,” he stated.Given the importance of reformation and empowerment, these workshops facilitated by the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Rule of Law Section are very important, according to Lieutenant General Longar Wol, Director for Training and Human Resource Development in South Sudan’s National Prison Service.“Such interactions help us build capacities among prisons officers and, ultimately, positively impact our collective push to help reform and reintegrate underage offenders,” he stated. For Captain Sanna Angelo, an officer dealing with female detainees, empowering adolescent offenders is vital. “As prisons officers we must build trust with young offenders. We must treat them with compassion and kindness to help them overcome circumstances that led them to prison in the first place and this workshop has taught me how to do my job in a more professional and humane manner,” she stated. Juvenile justice relies on skills development, rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders into society.