Delegates should not fail the people of Sudan by accepting as progress small steps, plans and promises by the Government of Sudan, while it engages in abusive practices of indiscriminate aerial bombing and other unlawful killings and restricting basic rights and freedoms across the country. Human Rights Watch is extremely concerned that the human rights situation has seriously deteriorated in Sudan the past twelve months, a reality not reflected in the Independent Expert’s report.
The Independent Expert's view that "the Government has made progress in putting in place necessary legislations and institutional mechanisms for improving the situation of human rights in the country" refers to promises to retain bill of rights provisions in a planned permanent constitution, yet to be adopted. Other indicators referenced by the expert are the adoption of a UPR implementation plan and a ten year human rights plan of action.
These and the establishment of the Advisory Council on Human Rights and the National Commission for Human Rights Promises have not led to changes to laws, policies, and practices that regularly violate the rights of Sudanese people.
This year, the government continued indiscriminate bombing in civilian areas in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. The Sudanese government is directly responsible for this well-documented practice of indiscriminate bombing, which violates basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights law and has killed and maimed hundreds of women, men and children, and caused hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
In Darfur, the government has carried out similar indiscriminate bombings and its ground forces have, in the context of fighting rebel forces, attacked and killed civilians in Jebel Mara and South Darfur. It is failing to protect civilians from a surge in inter-communal fighting, and allowing its security forces to participate in attacks on villages. Human Rights Watch research shows Ali Kosheib, a known former militia leader, participated in attacks on civilians in Central Darfur in April 2013 in his capacity as a commander in the government’s Central Reserve Police. Kosheib is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes committed in Darfur in 2005.
The Independent Expert’s report did not accurately reflect the use by security forces in 2013 of violence to break up peaceful protests. It also did not reference the security officials’ well‐established practice of stifling dissent by arbitrarily detaining people with real or perceived links to rebel groups or their continued use of torture and ill‐treatment to exact confessions from detainees. While the government announced it would release all political detainees in April, Human Rights Watch and others documented continued detention scores of others, including Nuba and Darfuri youth.
The expert’s comments on the National Security Act are well placed. We urge the expert to make law reform – including of the national security laws, and a range of other provisions in the criminal and public order laws that discriminate against women and girls -- a top priority for Sudan and key focus of the expert’s activities.
Human Rights Watch calls on the Council to clearly request the Government of Sudan end indiscriminate attacks against civilians and restrictions on basic freedoms. The Council should explicitly mandate the independent expert to monitor violations in all parts of Sudan, collect information from a range of stakeholders including journalists and independent civil society and report back to the Council, as well as to specifically investigate violations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Human Rights Watch also believes that the gravity of the situation in Sudan necessitates the appointment of a Special Rapporteur under agenda item 4.