ALTERNATIVE REPORT SUDAN

23/05/2008
Report

Three years after the signing in January 2005 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which provides for the Interim National Constitution and a Bill of Rights, very little has been done by the new Government of National Unity (GoNU) to implement the relevant human rights provisions and harmonize national legislation with the Interim National Constitution and international human rights standards. Pieces of legislation that entrench impunity and are conducive to human rights violations remain unchanged. As a result, Sudan’s human rights legal and institutional framework remains inadequate and its human rights record is also far from seeing significant improvements.

Individuals continue to be arbitrarily detained for long periods, often without charge and without access to lawyers, and torture and other forms of ill-treatment in custody remain common. Those who are particularly vulnerable to such abuses include human rights defenders, political opponents, students and displaced persons. In the past few months the Sudanese authorities and the National Security Services have also launched a harsh crackdown on the country’s media, which has included daily pre-print censorship, bureaucratic obstruction and arrests and summonses of journalists. While national elections scheduled for next year should mark a key milestone in Sudan’s transition towards stability and democracy, this lack of respect for human rights represents a major stumbling block.

Five years into the conflict, Darfur remains a region where gross violations of human rights are perpetrated. A sharp escalation of violence in Western Darfur in recent months has caused massive new displacement, with homes looted and burnt, many killed and women attacked and raped. Following these attacks by government forces and its militias, over 12,000 civilians sought refuge across the border into neighbouring Chad adding to the already extremely tense border situation. Darfuri civil society and its members are suffering not only from the war but also from attacks by government authorities aimed at muzzling peaceful dissent and undermining leadership structures within the IDP camps. Entire camp sections have been forcefully relocated; students, IDPs, activists and IDP leaders and representatives remain vulnerable to abuses like arbitrary arrest and torture.

In the meanwhile the Government remains obstructive to the full deployment of the hybrid force UNAMID and any attempts to address impunity for the crimes committed in Darfur have been completely ineffective. In face of the widespread and grave human rights abuses perpetrated in Darfur few have been investigated and among these only low ranking officials.

However in spite of this obvious inability to prosecute those responsible, the Government continues to refuse to cooperate with the International Criminal Court and to hand over two war crimes suspects. In fact, one of the suspects, Ahmad Harun, was promoted to State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, responsible for the welfare of the very victims of his alleged crimes.

Recommendations

In order to promote compliance with Sudan’s obligations under the ACHPR and other national and international commitments, SOAT calls on the GoS to: 􀂾 With regard to the urgent need to protect civilian population and respect human rights in Darfur:

- Establish an effective cease-fire and end all attacks on civilians in Darfur, including human rights defenders and humanitarian workers o Ensure the full and unhindered deployment of the UNAMID hybrid force o Ensure protection of civilians in Darfur according to obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law o Take all effective measures to combat impunity for the most serious crimes and equip the national courts with the necessary funds and ressources to try war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, while ensuring the independence and impartiality of the judiciary
- Cooperate fully with the ICC in line with Sudan’s obligations under UN Security Council resolution 1593, including arresting and surrendering the two suspects for whom international arrest warrants were issued on 27 April 2007;
- Ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC
- Amend emergency laws operating in Darfur not to grant security agencies broad powers to arrest and to restrict freedom of movement, assembly and expression.
- Allow for the participation of different sections of civil society, including representatives of IDPs and refugees and women into Darfur peace talks - Intensify efforts and ensure the implementation of the recommendations made by the UN Group of Experts on Darfur
- Conduct impartial and transparent investigations into all allegations of torture, other forms of abuse and killings by state officials, and bring to justice all suspected perpetrators, guaranteeing them fair trials according to internationally recognised standards 􀂾 Abolish the death penalty and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments, including flogging and amputations
- Ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Modify existing legislation to bring it in line with the 2005 Interim National Constitution as integrated in the CPA, specifically:
- Ensure that the person deprived of their liberty is informed of reasons for arrest, immediate access to a lawyer upon arrest, access to family members, and being brought promptly before a judicial authority.
- Ensure an express right of habeas corpus to all detainees irrespective of the forces responsible for arrest and detention
- Ensure institutional and legislative reform of the National Intelligence and Security Services in accordance with the CPA and Interim National Constitution. In particular, broad powers of arrest and detention should be reformed (art. 31 and art. 33 of the National Security Act) and effective judicial oversight mechanism established.
- Undertake all other steps necessary to end the impunity of state officials, including reforming key legislation and dismantling the system of immunities
- Clarify the Evidence Act, expressly declaring that confessions extracted under torture are inadmissible, even when there is corroborating evidence to support the confession
- Ensure the development of a body of case law that incorporates international standards for the administration of justice and human rights and clarifies the scope and content of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the obligations of the authorities

- Dismantle the system of immunities for state agents regardless of their official status or function by revoking all immunity laws or allowing for an express exception when the alleged acts concern torture and other serious human rights violations
- Immediately cease all forms of pre- and post-print censorship, including arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment of journalists, temporary suspension of newspapers, bureaucratic obstruction and bans on reporting on specific subjects, and take all necessary steps to guarantee the independence of the media and expedite the introduction of new media laws
- Review the compatibility of existing legislation relevant to the work of human rights defenders – especially the National Security Forces Act and the Organisation of Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act – with the ACHPR, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other applicable international human rights standards 􀂾 Apply the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials as a benchmark for policy and official guidelines, including requiring officials to always use non-violent means before resorting to force, to always ensure that the use of force is in proportion to the seriousness of the offence, and to ensure that lethal force is only used when absolutely necessary to protect life
- Establish an environment conducive to free and fair elections, including allowing political opposition parties and activists to campaign effectively; fully involving human rights defenders in the process; allowing them to independently monitor the actions of the GoS in preparing for the elections; and allowing them to monitor the elections themselves 􀂾 Speed up the adaptation of its laws governing the family and personal status, in particular with regard the institution of the wali (guardian) and the rules on marriage and divorce
- Undertake to review its legislation, in particular Articles 145 and 149 of the 1991 Criminal Code, so that women are not deterred from reporting rapes by fears that their claims will be associated with the crime of adultery
- Review legislation to make slavery, abductions and all associated practices illegal 􀂾 Take serious steps to address sexual crimes committed in Darfur including bringing those responsible to justice
- Train police and members of the judicial bodies in women’s human rights standards and jurisprudence
- End the use of corporal punishment for children, and make the provisions and disseminate information on alternative non-violent methods of discipline 􀂾 Ratify, implement and raise awareness of women specific international human rights instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against women and the Optional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women
SOAT calls on the warring factions in Darfur to:
- Respect obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular with regard to the protection of civilians, and end all attacks on civilians, including human rights defenders and humanitarian workers

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