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As South Sudan stands at a critical moment in its democratic transition, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is supporting all efforts to uphold rule of law as well as build capacities among national law enforcement personnel.

In a recent workshop led by the UN Peacekeeping mission in Torit, some 50 police officers from the country’s National Police Service participated in engaging sessions on pre-trial rights of suspected offenders; preventing conflict-related sexual violence; eschewing harmful cultural practices such as early or forced marriages; and upholding human rights.

“The aim of this workshop is to cross-pollinate ideas on how all of us can collectively ensure all human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, can be upheld consistently,” explained Anthony Nwapa, an UNMISS human rights officer.

Key sessions involved South Sudanese police officers specialized in crime investigations and the range of issues discussed included overcrowding in detention cells, a direct consequence, revealed participants, of not following due procedure of handling investigations within 24 hours of detaining suspects.

“During my last inspection, I found 35 detainees and received a report from the Director of Prisons that there are 56 more remanded under investigation. Some of them have been detained for three weeks and others for a month, which is in direct contradiction to human rights law,” revealed Karlos Atilio Ator, Head of Legal Administration for Eastern Equatoria state.

“This workshop, therefore, is very timely,” he added.

During solutions-focused group discussions, interesting and practical ways to help fast track justice systems and also raise awareness among young people on the importance of human rights.

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“For my part, I am encouraging UNMISS to print and supply booklets among school students so that they can understand the concept of human rights at a very young age,” said Quintino Pitiya Subek, a senior officer who participated in the training.

UNMISS Human Rights has been supporting the state government on human rights issues consistently.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).