A workshop launching a nationwide sensitization process aimed at increasing awareness and generating public opinion on the formation of a Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) kicked off this week at Juba Regency Hotel.
The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, with funding from the government of Netherlands and technical support from UNDP’s Access to Justice and Rule of Law project.
The Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), concluded in 2015, mandates the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to conduct national consultations in collaboration with other stakeholders and civil society, to inform the design of the legislation of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing.
The opening ceremony was attended by various officials including heads and representatives of diplomatic missions; officials from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ministry of Interior and the Local Government Board as well as representatives from Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (JMEC), civil society, members of the CTRH and the media. The foreign dignitaries included the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Head of the European Union Delegation in South Sudan; the Deputy Ambassadors of Japan and Norway; representatives from the British, Swiss and United States embassies as well as representatives from USAID, UNICEF, UN Women, and UNMISS departments of Human Rights, Public Affairs, Civil Affairs and UNPOL.
The purpose of the sensitization process is to prepare communities and the general public for the consultative process. The sensitization will be generalized for the entire population with mass dissemination of messages in newspapers and the broadcast media. The process will also include meetings with communities particularly those directly affected by conflict.
In a keynote address, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Hon. Martinson Mathew Oturomoi, urged the technical committee members to ensure the process of the consultations is transparent, inclusive and credible. He stated, “This platform must create a genuine opportunity for the people who are affected to express their ideas and views, and the process must be transparent, inclusive and credible.” He noted that the CTRH is crucial to restoring the rights of citizens by investigating the causes of gross violations of human rights and providing remedies. He thanked the Netherlands for providing funding for the sensitisation process, and called upon other donors to come on board.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to South Sudan H. E. Geert Guet, expressed his government’s commitment to support peace and reconciliation efforts in South Sudan. The ambassador underlined the importance of allowing the victims to say what happened to them because “It is important to know what the truth is and what has happened before so we can take the next steps to accountability.” He observed that transitional justice processes including the CTRH will ensure that “there is justice and accountability once peace returns.”
UNDP Country Director Kamil Kamaluddeen commended the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for taking positive steps towards the establishment of a Commission for Truth, Reconciliation, and Healing for the attainment of “irreversible peace in the country through inclusive, intensive, and extensive consultations.” He said UNDP is firmly committed to supporting the Government in attaining its aspirations and commitments.
“We at UNDP are very proud to be part and parcel of efforts to achieve truth, reconciliation, and healing and we are even prouder that we are doing this supporting your own aspirations and commitment,” said Mr. Kamaluddeen.
In the Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, the establishment of a Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing falls under Chapter V which deals with issues of transitional justice, accountability, reconciliation, and healing.
The Ministry established a Technical Committee to lead the national consultations. The Technical Committee which is chaired by the Undersecretary, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, consists of both state actors and non-state actors, including members of civil society, the academia, South Sudan Council of Churches, Islamic Council of South Sudan, South Sudan Human Rights Commission, traditional leaders, youth representatives and South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission. Members of the Technical Committee will travel to the various states and IDP camps to begin sensitizing and consulting the communities starting on 19 June.
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(Via: Ghana/Accra News)