“Today is the right time. Immigration officers have to handle foreign traders from neighbouring countries with dignity and humanity,” advised Corporal Iwa Joseph Ben, a police officer at the Torit area police headquarters.
Corporal Iwa was guiding fellow officers at the end of a sensitization workshop on sexual and gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Police Division.
In recent years ago, cases related to sexual harassment were reported by female foreign citizens in Torit, who recounted how immigration police officers were asking for sexual favours in return for unofficial immigration permits.
“Asking for sexual favours from female foreign nationals by an immigration officer at the expense of her financial inability to pay for extension of her visa is punishable by law. We need to maintain a good name for our nation,” cautioned Brigadier Kasmiro Okomos, Deputy Police Commissioner for the Torit area.
Many foreign nationals in South Sudan encounter challenges in securing a permit to live and trade in South Sudan, especially overstaying their initial visa.
“Law enforcers in Torit must stand firm and protect the rights of communities from our neighbouring countries,” added Okomos.
The three-day workshop aims to transform the standards of policing and law enforcement in the South Sudan police force.
“The crime does not happen only in specific places, but also along or across borders. Therefore, we thought it wise to give this knowledge in relation to gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence to the participants from all the units,” explained Simon Yevu, who spoke to the media about the criteria for selecting relevant topics of the training programme.
The 30 beneficiaries, drawn from immigration and administration police units, together with the prisons department, were taken through a number of topics, including the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, code of conduct at work, human rights principles, domestic violence, sexual and gender-based violence, early marriage, ethics, gender mainstreaming, first aid, among others.
“The training has helped us to know that we have rights. However, our rights are denied by our police units,” said Betty Kunyu, one of the female police officer working at the headquarters of the area Administrative Police unit, in her remarks during the closing of the workshop.
“Through this course we are able to know that sexual and gender-based violence at work is punishable, and what procedures to follow in order to report it,” added Kunyu.