By Julius N. Uma
June 24, 2012 (JUBA) - The European Union (EU) on Friday announced the donation of over 80 specialist books, covering a wide range of human rights issues, to South Sudan Human Rights Commission (SSHRC).
- EU Coucil president Herman Van Rompuy (right) welcomes South Sudan president, Salva Kiir, to the EU headquaters, March 20, 2012 (Getty)
The books, the EU said in statement, are expected to support the human rights body in its activities, including enhancing their staff with knowledge and skills on human rights issues, which they can use to train government institutions and the public.
The donation comes in the wake of a recent Human Rights Watch report which found that a “third of South Sudan’s 6,000 inmates are held on remand and some without charge” and that prison conditions are “dire”. Juba described the report as “not objective”.
The donation reportedly follows a request made by SSHRC; a body whose mission is to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of South Sudan as enshrined in the transitional
constitution and other international human rights treaties.
“This initiative is part of the EU’s active promotion of good human rights practices which the EU considers to be universal and indivisible. The EU places human rights at the forefront of its work within the EU as well as in its relations with other countries through various agreements and instruments,” partly reads the statement, citing the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), which supports non-governmental organisations active in the field of human rights.
Since 2005, over €1.3m (US$1.6 million) has reportedly been injected into various projects in South Sudan, while an additional €600,000 (US$750,000) has already been earmarked for five projects in the forthcoming year.
the EU has supported projects in South Sudan, enabling civil society organiSations to work on a multitude of issues including, human rights, political pluralism, as well as supporting civil society role in influencing legislative reforms and improve policy.
In March, South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, visited the EU headquarters in Brussels, and held a series of meetings during which he declared his country’s intention to become party to the Cotonou Agreement.
Once admitted, South Sudan will, as a member, enjoy benefits including financial assistance from the European Development Fund (EDF). Programming for allocation to South Sudan under the EDF for the 2014-2020 periods can only begin when its membership is finalized.
“The EU remains concerned about the human rights situation in South Sudan. It therefore welcomes the Government of South Sudan’s willingness to work with development partners to address these issues,” further says the statement, while welcoming SSHRC’s recent launch of a strategic plan.
This donation of books, the statement added, represents the EU’s commitment to work with the SSHRC, recognising its "central" role in realising the shared aspirations of the South Sudanese people.