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Petroleum conference: Strong unions are needed to make oil a blessing

PRESS RELEASE

Ref: Strong unions are needed to make oil a blessing

Juba, August 31, 2013 (SSNA) -- The conference “Petroleum workers, employers and the host nation/government: A mutual relationship for accountable management of the petroleum industry”, 30th of August 2013, is the first tripartite conference in South Sudan. The conference made these recommendations:

1. In order to make the oil resources a blessing, not a curse, we need strong trade union movement. This will assure responsible frameworks, good governance and responsible companies. Trade unions give workers a voice, and workers should be encouraged to organize.

2. A good legal framework is needed to secure workers’ rights to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The government is urged to ratify and respect all core labour standards of the International Labour Organization, and we expect our government to include trade unions and employers in tripartite dialogue.

3. The companies in the oil industry must respect workers’ rights and facilitate the formations of unions as per the transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan. The companies also must give local union representatives opportunities to take part in training and education and to participate in union activities at local, state and national level.

4. The companies must acknowledge the unions as workers representatives and enter into collective agreements on wages, benefits, working conditions and other important issues.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Jamus Joseph; Land and Resource Rights Adviser, NPA
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sudanese Woman Activist Faces Trail

Sudanese Woman Activist Faces Trial; Is it about a Scarf or the Assumed Ideology that Forces Sudanese Women to Disappear

Public Statement
30th August 2013

Omdurman, August 30, 2013 (SSNA) -- On August 27th 2013 while at the Jabal Awalia locality West of Greater Khartoum undertaking some work on land registration, Amira Osman was approached by a police officer who demanded that she covers her hair. When she ignored him, he persisted to which Amira openly refused. As a result, she was physically assaulted, forced to sit on the floor, verbally abused and later dragged out of the government office to the police station, where they attempted to pressurize her to undergo a summary trail, Amira refused however, and insisted on having a lawyer present.  She was held in dentition for four hours before being released on bail.  On 1st September 2013, Amira is due for trail under article 152 of the 1991 Penal Code on indecent dress code. Should she be found guilty, she could be sentenced to flogging and paying a fine or receiving a prison sentence that could go beyond one year. 

Amira is a Khartoum based engineer who runs her own company and has been confronted by the Sudan Public Order Police on several occasions in the past. She has been targeted through physical assaults and verbal abuse while participating in civil or public activities. She has led a personal campaign against the Sudan Public Order Regime for more than 15 years by simply refusing to cover her head under any circumstances as this is who she believes she is and is how she wants to present herself. In 2012 she was detained for civil political actions for more than one month alongside other women and was subjected to massive psychological abuse due to her upfront position against the state dictating the scope and realm of women’s bodies and dress codes.
For the past 25 years or so, Sudanese women regardless of their race, religion, age or background, have suffered degrading treatment and humiliation under the public order code of 1996, which changed in 2009 to The Society Safety Code. Women, especially impoverished women, street vendors and students, have been and continue to be subjected to the constant threat of being arrested, beaten and tortured on the basis of what they are wearing and their mere presence in public spaces. The majority are denied legal representation and tried through what is known as summary trails and either sent to prison or flogged.  
Hala Alkarib, the Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) stated that “The degradation of women is affecting our society and self esteem and diminishes the respect that we have in our diverse cultures towards women and girls- an aspect of our culture that we do need to promote and enhance”.
“Sudanese women represent more than half of the Sudan population, their contribution to the society economy and wellbeing is substantial. Women, from street vendors, teachers and farmers, workers are preserving communities and families across the country. The role of the state is to protect them, maintain their dignity and pride and their access to a fair justice system.”
SIHA calls on the Sudan Government and the Sudan Ministry of Justice to:
1) Reform the Sudanese Criminal Act, of 1991.
a. Remove from the criminal law offences which violate the principles of non-discrimination, legality, equality before the law and the equal protection of the laws, and, which by their definition, inappropriately restrict the exercise of fundamental freedoms.
b. Sections 151 to 156 must be subject to particular scrutiny.
2) Reform Sudan Public Order laws
a. Criminalization of behaviour which constitutes the exercise of basic personal freedoms—unless its prohibition can be shown to be necessary and proportionate in a democratic society—must end.
b. Civil law procedures and penalties can be used to govern regulation of many public order matters.
c. Provisions which restrict the right to work of women on the grounds of public order, either explicitly or implicitly, and in ways which violate the Charter, must be abolished.
3) Abolish the public order courts (POCs)
a. The summary procedures in operation before the POCs violate fair trial standards, the principle of equal protection of the laws and the right to liberty and security of person.
4) Reform and consider the abolition of the public order police (POP). Many in Sudan, and particularly women, perceive and experience the POP, not as guardians of community safety, but as feared and arbitrary abusers of their fundamental freedoms.
Notes:
The Public Order Regime in Sudan is a set of laws and mechanisms which prohibit and enforce a range of behaviour from dancing at private parties, to “indecent dress” to the concept of “intention to commit adultery”. These offences can be interpreted with great latitude and are enforced by a special police and court system with a reputation for violence and summary justice. Procedures before the public order courts completely fail to meet fair trail standards and involve the imposition of severe penalties including lashing and execution.
For a detailed analysis of the public order regime see Beyond Trousers: the Public Order Regime and the Human Rights of Women and Girls in Sudan, by the Strategic Initiative on Women in the Horn of Africa-(SIHA) at
SIHA Network
P.O Box 5 Ntinda
Uganda- Kampala
And/or
P.O Box 1805
Omdurman, Sudan

Trauma and Poverty are Barriers to Peace in Abyei

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Juba, August 29, 2013 (SSNA) -- A political solution alone will not resolve the conflict plaguing Abyei. Urgent attention needs to be paid to local conditions and efforts on the ground should move beyond humanitarian relief to focus on transitions that would result in long-term stability. That is the conclusion of a newly-released report by KUSH Inc. "Stabilizing Abyei: Trauma and the Economic Challenges to Peace," which provides analysis of the displaced Ngok Dinka population. The report shows the correlation between the severity of their circumstances and negative attitudes regarding the Misseriya and the possibility of peace in the area.

Since the May, 2011 invasion of Abyei, recovery has been slow with approximately half of the Internally Displaced People remaining displaced. Insecurity has persisted culminating in the death of Paramount Chief Kuol Deng Kuol in May of this year. More recently, the Misseriya have threatened war against South Sudan over its preparation for the referendum.

"With the bleak picture painted by the report, coupled with the lack of agreement on the conduct of referendum in October, Abyei will be at the brink unless the international community takes affirmative action” warns Dr. Luka Biong Deng, Executive Director of Kush.

A survey was conducted of the Ngok Dinka IDP population a year after the invasion of Abyei. The intent was to measure the people’s socio-economic and psychological conditions and see if there was a relationship between the population’s conditions and their views regarding the Misseriya and also of peace and reconciliation.

“We found very little variation among the people in terms of attitudes, income or ownership. The situation for the vast majority was grim, having lost their homes and valuables and without real opportunity for recovery” said Belkys López, lead author of the report. Close to all of the individuals surveyed, 98.8%, lost one or more real estate properties and over half of the sample indicated a monthly family income of 600 SSP.

Levels of trauma were assessed by measuring the presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD may occur in a person after experiencing or witnessing life threatening events. Symptoms may include intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, irritability or bouts of rage. Many in the community often spoke about the emotional toll the crisis had taken, and it was these concerns that led to the trauma study. The community’s speculations were well-founded. 

The findings of the PTSD study show:

  • 37.8% of the respondents met the criteria for PTSD.
  • Approximately half of the women surveyed, 48.6%, met the criteria for PTSD.

“These numbers are alarming and the levels among the women point to a serious health crisis,” psychologist and co-author Dr. Hazel Spears cautions.

Findings show that the most vulnerable individuals among the population had the most negative attitudes toward the Misseriya and the prospect for peace. When questioned about the nomadic migration, trading with the Misseriya, peace talks, reconciliation and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, those with lower levels of education and income responded the most negatively.

“Though the present picture is discouraging, assisting the population in generating income and providing education are measures that are achievable and would help build peace” López suggests.

The authors recommend building the population’s resilience through practical initiatives and empowering citizens so that they may lead the area’s recovery. Accordingly, development efforts for the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya are essential to the regions stability and would help create an environment conducive for the implementation of a final political resolution.

Kush is a not-for-profit South Sudanese-American organization which supports local African initiative for peace, economic cooperation and cultural learning. http://www.kushworld.org/ 

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