Press Release
UN Human Rights Council: Renewal and strengthening of the special procedure mandate on the situation of human rights in Sudan

Permanent Representative of
Member and Observer States to the
UN Human Rights Council
                                                                                                                                                         

Re: Renewal and strengthening of the special procedure mandate on the situation of human rights in Sudan, UN Human Rights Council 24th session (9-27 September 2013)

Excellency,

The undersigned organisations are writing to urge your delegation to ensure that serious and widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Sudan are adequately addressed by the Human Rights Council during its 24th session.

Given its mandate to address gross and systematic violations of human rights, we are deeply concerned by the Council’s persistent failure to respond effectively to the situation in Sudan. Since 2011, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan has held an item 10 mandate to offer technical assistance and capacity-building support to Sudan, but widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have continued unabated. We consider that the Human Rights Council should now adopt a resolution under item 4 condemning these continuing violations, identifying concrete recommendations, urging for their implementation, and requesting the mandate-holder to monitor and report on them.

Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated by government forces and allied militias against civilians continued throughout the year in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and spread to Northern Kordofan. In Darfur, the government has failed to protect civilians from abuses during a surge in fighting between predominantly ethnic Arab groups over land and other natural resources in which its forces have participated.

Throughout the country, the Government of Sudan has increased restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly in what appears to be a concerted effort to shut down independent dialogue. The government continues to use the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and other security forces to arbitrarily detain perceived opponents of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), censor media and shut down public forums and protests.  There has also been a documented rise in restrictions on religious freedoms targeting Christian minorities.

These restrictions have severely undermined the activities of civil society and prevented meaningful public consultation in Sudan’s constitution-making process. Sudan is due to adopt a new permanent constitution, which the Government has declared will be based on Shari’a (Islamic law), and is preparing for national elections in 2015. We are concerned about increasing restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms at a time when Sudan is preparing for these important processes that will determine the future of the country.

We regret that previous resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council failed to condemn the widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in Sudan and did not identify concrete priority areas of action to improve the protection of basic human rights. In light of the continuing wide range of human rights and international humanitarian law violations documented by the undersigned organisations, we urge your government to support the full engagement of the Human Rights Council in responding to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Sudan under item 4.

We believe the Human Rights Council should:

  • Condemn the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, Northern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, as well as the government’s continued use of indiscriminate bombing in these states, attacks on civilians, and other violations by government forces and allied militia;
  • Establish an independent investigation into ongoing human rights violations in Southern Kordofan, Northern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, that would report back to the Human Rights Council at its next session;
  • Urge Sudan to grant humanitarian agencies access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, in compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law obligations;
  • Express concern over the ongoing restrictions of basic civil and political rights, and the continued harassment of critics of the government, including through the practices of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, and restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly preventing meaningful public dialogue on critical issues at a time when Sudan is preparing to adopt a new constitution and to hold national elections in 2015;
  • Call on Sudan to reform its repressive National Security Act of 2010 and other laws granting immunity to officials, bringing them into conformity with Sudan’s international human rights obligations; seriously investigate allegations of human rights and international humanitarian law violations, and hold perpetrators of such violations to account;
  • Renew and strengthen the special procedure mandate on Sudan for three years under Item 4, establishing a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan with a mandate to monitor the situation and report twice a year to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in all parts of Sudan.

Attached to this letter is a detailed briefing note on the nature and scope of the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in Sudan since the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan by the Human Rights Council in September 2012.

Thank you for your attention to these urgent issues. Please feel free to contact us to discuss this letter or for further information.

Yours sincerely,

  1. African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies
  2. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies
  3. African Democracy Forum
  4. Amnesty International
  5. Arry Organisation for Human Rights
  6. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  7. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  8. Conectas Direitos Humanos
  9. Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre
  10. East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
  11. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  12. Human Rights and Development Organisation
  13. Human Rights Watch
  14. International Federation of Human Rights Leagues
  15. International Refugee Rights Initiative
  16. International Service for Human Rights
  17. Partnership for Justice – Nigeria
  18. REDRESS
  19. Sudan Democracy First Group
  20. West African Human Rights Defenders Network