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Sudan: UN Rights Body Should Ensure Robust Next Steps

Item 10 Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on Sudan

Sudan’s human rights situation has not improved.  Armed conflicts in Darfur since 2003, and in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile since 2011, are not over. While evidence suggests the government has stopped indiscriminate bombing, its forces still attack, burn and loot civilian property, forcing thousands to flee their homes.  To date, Sudan has taken no meaningful steps to ensure justice for victims of atrocities committed during these long-running conflicts.

Across the country, government authorities continue to stifle dissent and criticism. Security forces routinely use excessive violence to break up protests. In January 2018 in West Darfur, they used live ammunition against students, injuring several and killing at least one. There has been no accountability for the injuries and deaths of over 170 protesters in Wad Madani in September 2013.

Police and security forces continue to disperse protests by arbitrarily detaining protesters and activists. Some detainees have been held for months without charges. All detainees are at risk of torture, and many released detainees reported torture and other ill-treatment. To date, Sudan has not investigated, far less prosecuted national security officials implicated in such crimes.

Authorities have arrested and detained outspoken critics, including women’s rights activists opposing discriminatory public order codes, outspoken teachers, and other professionals, sometimes bringing trumped up charges that carry heavy penalties. They have successful sought the extradition of activists living outside Sudan, detained them on their return for no more than critical writings. Security officials have also harassed activist and rights lawyers, blocking them from traveling out of Sudan, and continue to censor the media, confiscating newspaper editions with articles on topics deemed too critical.

Given Sudan’s continued use of violence against civilians in conflict zones and serious and persistent violations of basic freedoms of expression and assembly, the Human Rights Council should not abandon scrutiny of Sudan’s human rights record.  

The draft resolution at this Session envisions an end to the Independent Expert’s mandate once an OHCHR office is set up, which would be an abdication of the Council’s responsibility to human rights victims in Sudan while grave violations are ongoing. At a minimum, states should ensure the planned country office monitors and publicly reports on human rights across Sudan, including in conflict zones where the planned reductions to UNAMID leave much of the region without peacekeepers’ protection. The High Commissioner should be mandated to report to the Council on the Office’s findings.    

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