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UN report on human rights situation in Sudan

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Jan 30, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Attached the second periodic report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Sudan.

This report makes five key recommendations, listed below, to assist Sudan in meeting its international and domestic human rights obligations. To effectively implement these recommendations it will be necessary for Sudan to set concrete tasks and timelines for meeting specified goals. The government should also seek assistance and expertise from national and international human rights experts.

Ending the culture of impunity throughout Sudan

In areas where peace has taken hold in Sudan, the Government should focus on implementing a new culture of accountability. The judiciary must be adequately financed, reformed, and staffed with professionals. Immunity laws for state agents, regardless of their official status or function, should be revoked. This is particularly true for personnel with powers of arrest and detention such as National Security and police personnel. Law enforcement and military forces in Southern Sudan and the transitional areas should be held accountable for their actions. With regard to Darfur, in addition to ending impunity and reforming the National Security Service, the Government should cease its attacks on civilians, disarm militias, and install an active, professional, well-trained law enforcement system in Darfur with adequate resources.

Those who have not yet been held accountable for the commission of prior crimes, including those relating to the 21-year civil war, should be brought to justice. This should be one of the foundational components of the reconciliation process called for in the CPA. The National Human Rights Commission envisaged in the Interim National Constitution could play an important role in mapping out these crimes and proposing relevant mechanisms for establishing accountability.

The Sudanese Government has made numerous commitments to ending impunity in Darfur and established a variety of accountability and investigatory mechanisms. While these are welcome initiatives, the measures taken to implement them have been highly insufficient and reflect an inability or unwillingness to prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. The Government should consider working in cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring about justice for crimes related to the conflict that began in 2003. Meanwhile, the Government should start to use its domestic legal system more effectively.

National Security reform

The Interim National Constitution envisaged reform of the National Security organs that are critical to improving the situation of human rights in Sudan. The National Security Service should be stripped of it abusive and unchecked powers of arrest and detention. This must include nullifying their immunity protections in domestic law. Similar reform is needed for the police and armed forces.

Respecting economic, social, and cultural rights

Sudan must start to progressively realize the economic, social, and cultural rights of its people. Conflict in Sudan was initially sparked in response to practices of marginalization and discriminatory resource allocation. The wars that followed resulted in further devastation to health, education, and living conditions. To remedy this, resource allocation must be fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, and involve the effected communities. The Government should also permit and facilitate the assistance of humanitarian and development assistance, especially where it is unable to provide the required services itself.

A free civil society

The Government must allow civil society to function freely. Restrictions on the creation and activities of media outlets and associations, including political parties and unions, should be the exception rather than the rule.

Making effective use of the national law reform committee

In late October 2005, the Ministry of Justice established a committee for law reform with a mandate to review the compatibility of domestic legislation adopted from 1901 to 2005 with the Interim National Constitution. This process should result in the harmonization of Sudan’s domestic legislation with its obligations under international human rights law. For the committee to be successful in this respect, it must rely on the expertise and advice of national and international human rights experts. In addition to reforming the specific laws mentioned in this report, the committee should strengthen, inter alia, non-discrimination laws and those pertaining to the rights of women, as envisaged under international human rights treaties.

(ST)

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