23rd August 2012
Eighteen human rights defenders representing thirteen organizations and in their own capacities met on 17th August 2012 in Juba and formed the South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network.
Human rights defenders in South Sudan face challenges in carrying out their work, in part as a result of the long history of civil wars and political unrest in the vast and newly independent country. There are ongoing efforts to ensure that legislation incorporates human rights provisions and that human rights organizations are consulted and involved in the process. The formation of the Network was aimed at ensuring effective collective efforts to address the particular concerns and challenges that HRDs in South Sudan face.
The one day meeting was preceded by two days training aimed at equipping the human rights defenders with the necessary knowledge and skills necessary for them to engage in their work.
The aim of the network is to promote collective advocacy by South Sudanese HRDs for the recognition of their rights as human rights defenders, ensure the enactment of legislation that provides an enabling environment for HRDs to engage in their work and promote the wider recognition of individual rights and freedoms as recognized under international law.
The organizations and human rights defenders present at the meeting signed a memorandum of understanding and considered a plan of action which will guide their activities for the coming year. Elections produced a steering committee with membership of seven organizations. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) was elected to host the Network and to chair the steering committee.
The meeting concluded with the adoption of a communiqué in which the organizations pledged to work together to ensure recognition and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders.
EHAHRDP continues to work with human rights organizations to empower and support them to lead the efforts to address the concerns that they have at the national level. National coalitions and networks of human rights defenders have been formed in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania. EHAHRDP commits to support the national coalitions and networks in the areas of protection, advocacy and capacity building to ensure that they have the skills and tools to engage in their work.
“South Sudan finds itself at a formative juncture in its history,” said Hassan Shire Sheikh, Executive Director of EHAHRDP. “EHAHRDP is committed to supporting human rights defenders to play their vital role in constructing a democratic, rights-respecting society.”
For more information, please contact:
Tabitha Netuwa, Protection Officer, EHAHRDP Tel +256 312265823, [email protected]