Parliament to retable “lost” Maputo Protocol

Parliament to retable “lost” Maputo Protocol
The Speaker of the R-TNLA, Jemma Nunu Kumba. [Photo: courtesy]

The National Parliament will re-table and ratify the Maputo Protocol that is believed to have disappeared from the House.

Maputo Protocol is a document that was signed by the African leaders at the African Union Assembly in Maputo, Mozambique, to protect, promote and fulfill African women’s rights.

South Sudan is yet to ratify the document to ensure the protection of women’s rights as required by the African Union Human Rights Charter.

In an inclusive interview with City Review, the Speaker of Reconstituted Transitional  National  Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA),  Jemma Nunu Kumba, said the parliament intends to retable the lost document as soon as possible to safeguard women’s rights.

“We will bring it to the parliament, table it and pass it,” Kumba said.

“I will [then] take it with my own hands to His Excellency the President [Salva Kiir] for signature,” she added.

However, she did not mention the specific date they intended to re-introduce the bill.

She revealed that the secretariat at the parliament traced the whereabouts of the document and failed to find it.

“We have tried to trace the document and there is no copy even in the secretariat,” she revealed.

Kumba said the ratification had long been done but some individuals may have made way with the document before a presidential assent.

“The Maputo Protocol was tabled here (parliament), it was debated and passed, and the document got lost between this office and the Office of the President,” she lamented. 

She said that they were working with the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare to protect women’s rights. 

“It was first enacted when I was a Minister of Gender and it did not get the answer, now I am here you can be sure that I will do the necessary follow-up.’’   

In a country where women still grapple with the burden of patriarchal culture, the speaker believes that this document could open several doors to women in South Sudan.

“Women participated together with men in the struggle,some of them even went for combat; they were trained and they became officers,” she remarked about contribution of women.

She urged the women to actively participate and play some roles in their various parties and associations to utilise the 35 per cent affirmative action.

In 2013, South Sudan signed the document, but it has never been ratified to date.

Several media reports revealed that the parliamentarians agreed to ratify it but raised several reservations, among which the article that discourages polygamous marriages, another that guarantees the rights of women to control their sexuality and whether to have children or not.

Other sensitive issues that topped the ratification of the protocol include the right for women to procure an abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, among others.

Countries that did not ratify the Maputo Protocol include South Sudan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan, and Egypt, among others. 

The AU Assembly adopted the protocol on July 11, 2003, in Maputo, in a bid to prevent the persistent gender inequality and discriminatory practices against women in Africa.