For the principle of rule of law to function as it should, those upholding it must know what they do, others what they cannot do, and everyone, by having transparency, be accountable for their actions. To improve the way the system works, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) invited relevant stakeholders to a two-day workshop to discuss these matters.
“You have been here for the last two days being able to focus and pay attention because nobody has been interfering. Why? Because others know that it is your right to be here and to learn, they respect that and don’t disturb you, and you assume the responsibility of doing your job. This is also how it should work outside of this room,” said Stephen Mathiang, State Minister of Cabinet Affairs in a succinct attempt at explaining rule of law, transparency, accountability and everyone sticking to their mandated tasks – all rolled in to one.
Representatives from the army, the South Sudanese police and legal practitioners attending the event, organized by some of the peacekeeping mission’s Human Rights Officers, duly took note. They did, too, when the roles and non-roles of the security apparatus in the administration of justice were debated.
“The workshop is very meaningful because it is an opportunity for all of us to hear what challenges colleagues working within other parts of the justice system are facing. This awareness will definitely help us improve and put into practice the advice given to us by both counterparts and UNMISS staff,” said James Mabor Muorwel, an attending legal practitioner.
Margaret Ajong Nhial, another participant, noted that the responsibility to make the rule of law prevail lies with the government, with the peacekeeping mission offering the technical assistance needed to enable it, including not only capacity building but also the construction or renovation of prisons, police stations and court rooms across the country.
“I commend the frankness, openness and dedication that you have demonstrated during this training. I want to believe that you will use the lessons you have learnt, not least about arbitrary arrests and the detention and treatment of civilians in military prisons, when you go back to work,” said Human Rights Officer John Oziegbe, one of the facilitators of the workshop.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).