One year ago, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 24/28 on technical assistance for the Sudan. At the same time, Sudanese government security forces violently cracked down on popular protests erupting in Wad Madani, Khartoum and other towns in response to austerity measures using excessive force against protesters, killing at least 170 people, and detaining over 800. Yet, resolution 24/28 failed to condemn the ongoing violations and was devoid of any mention of the violent crackdown, focusing solely on technical assistance.
The past year has seen no improvement in the human rights situation in Sudan – quite the contrary. Widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have continued unabated. The government has continued to repress fundamental rights and freedoms including through widespread arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders, journalists, and opposition political party leaders. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) retain wide powers of arrest and detention under the 2010 National Security Act, which they routinely used to arbitrarily detain perceived opponents for prolonged detention without charge, and subject them to torture and ill-treatment. The government also increased restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly by censoring the media and harassing and intimidating civil society organisations. In Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the government intensified indiscriminate and targeted aerial bombings in civilian areas, killing scores of civilians and resulting in major displacements. The government has also failed to take serious steps to investigate and hold to account members of the state security forces responsible for human rights violations and abuses. The National Security Act of 2010, which enables the perpetration of human rights violations with impunity, has not been reformed.
FIDH deplores the failed engagement of the Human Rights Council on Sudan. Given its mandate to address gross and systematic violations of human rights, the Council should respond effectively to the gravity of the human rights situation in Sudan by adopting a resolution on Sudan in September 2014. The resolution should in particular condemn the excessive use of force against protesters and the continued impunity of security forces in this respect, call for the release of human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents arbitrarily detained by the NISS, and condemn the indiscriminate and targeted aerial bombardments of civilian areas by government forces in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. In light of the lack of accountability for violations in the country, the Council should also strengthen the special procedure mandate on Sudan, establishing a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan with a mandate to monitor and publicly report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
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In July 2014, FIDH co-signed a letter to members of the Human Rights Council with the following NGOs: the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (www.acjps.org) (ACJPS is a member of FIDH), Amnesty International, Arry Organisation for Human Rights and Development, CIVICUS, Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, the Darfur Bar Association, Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) Sudan, the Human Rights and Development Organization, Human Rights Concern - Eritrea, Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Policy and Conflict, the International Commission of Jurists, the South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network, the Sudan Consortium, Sudan Democracy First Group, and Sudan Social Development Organization.
During HRC 27, FIDH, in cooperation with partner NGOs, will facilitate the participation in the work of the Council of Sudanese human rights defenders. Together with partners, we will participate in advocacy meetings with diplomatic missions and support a side event organized by Human Rights Watch in order to call on the Council to meaningfully address human rights violations in Sudan by putting in place a strong monitoring mechanism under a strengthened mandate.