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Human Rights Council should dispatch OHCHR investigative team to Sudan

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on Sudan

Human Rights Watch calls for the extension of the Special Procedure mandate on Sudan with the appointment of a Special Rapporteur, and for the Council to request the OHCHR to dispatch an investigative team with expertise in sexual violence to investigate human rights violations in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile.

The Sudanese government’s widespread human rights violations and failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible justify specific scrutiny by the Human Rights Council over the situation in Sudan. Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states remain engulfed in armed conflicts in which numerous abuses have been committed against civilians, including indiscriminate aerial bombing in civilian areas and deliberate attacks on towns and villages; unlawful killings of civilians; sexual violence against women and girls; and unlawful destruction of civilian property.

The fighting in all three conflict zones has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes. Sudan continues to severely limit the access of the AU/UN peacekeeping mission to many locations in Darfur, and restricts humanitarian aid access into Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Across Sudan, the rights to freedom of association and assembly are severely restricted, as the security forces repeatedly used excessive, including lethal, force against peaceful protesters, such as during the September 2013 anti-austerity protests, when more than 170 civilians were shot dead on the streets of Khartoum and other towns. During the April 2015 election period, the government continued its crackdown on the media, civil society groups, and opposition parties through arrests and arbitrary detentions.

A number of repressive laws, including the National Security Act of 2010, contravene human rights norms. The National Intelligence and Security Service has sweeping powers of arrest and detention, and routinely tortures and otherwise ill-treats detainees. Yet Sudan’s security forces, including national security officials, are shielded from prosecution for abuses by a patchwork of immunities.

Sudan’s legal system continues to discriminate on the basis of gender, with repressive public order codes restricting women’s freedom of movement and dress choices. Judicial authorities continue to apply Sharia law penalties such as flogging that violate international prohibitions on cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment. 

As the Independent Expert noted in his latest report, Sudan accepted the vast majority of the recommendations following its UPR in 2011, but has failed to implement most of them. In particular, he noted that Sudan has failed to provide justice to victims of the violent crackdown on protesters in September 2013, and described continued patterns of arbitrary detentions, media censorship and conflict-related abuses. 

In view of these ongoing serious abuses and Sudan’s record of failure to provide accountability for crimes against civilians, we call on the Council to ensure continued scrutiny of Sudan.

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