Five members of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network from South Sudan visited Kampala for a study tour and capacity-building visit from 3rd-6th August. The representatives of the newly formed South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Forum (SSHRDF) used the opportunity to learn from the experiences of their fellow EHAHRD-Net members in Uganda.
The delegation met with a number of human rights organizations and networks working on a range of issues, including human rights monitoring and reporting, women’s rights, human rights awareness, access to justice and torture rehabilitation.
Working in a country emerging from civil war, the delegates sought to learn from human rights defenders in Uganda who had come through a similar experience. The delegation also received practical advice on how to prioritize areas for action to lay the foundations for the forum.
“The SSHRDF has gained a lot of experience from their few days in Uganda,” said Edmund Yakani, coordinator and founding member of SSHRDF. The experiences were mainly centered on human rights awareness, promotion, monitoring, documentation, treatment of victims of torture, and advocacy for the protection of civilians’ lives and property, including protection for human rights defenders. ”The team also gained an insight into working with various governmental institutions for improvement of policies with regard to human rights and rule of law,” Mr Yakani added.
The development of a strong network of human rights defenders in South Sudan remains a priority area for the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, and it calls on the Government of South Sudan to provide support and legal protection for individuals and groups engaged in the monitoring and highlighting of human rights violations in the country. Freedom of the media and expression should also be guaranteed by protecting journalists from harassment, intimidation or arrest.
“The international community should include human rights programs in their assistance to South Sudan,” said Hassan Shire, Chairperson of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network. “Human rights must be a priority from day one.”
For more information, please contact Mr. Edmund Yakani, South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Forum on +249 909 768 947 or [email protected]; or Ms Rachel Nicholson, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on [email protected] or +249 909 051 663.