SUDAN: UN expert calls for improvement in the administration of justice

Summary: While acknowledging some significant progress towards the promotion and protection of human rights by the Sudanese government, the UN independent expert stressed that significant challenges still remain.

In his preliminary recommendations after his second visit to the Sudan, Mr. Baderin called on the Government to further implement the recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council for 2013 in the areas of administration of justice, law reform, and ratification of identified international human rights treaties.

The Independent Expert reiterated the important role of the National Commission for Human Rights and highlighted the need for the authorities to support it with necessary funding to enable it function effectively. “I have been informed that the Government has approved the Commission’s budget and that funds would soon be disbursed. I urge them to effect the disbursement of funds as quickly as possible to enable the Commission carry out its mandated functions,” he said.

“I note with concern that Darfur conflict related crimes are currently being tried in the ordinary courts and that human rights officers have been denied access to these trials,” said Mr. Baderin, while urging the Sudanese authorities to make operational the Special Courts for Crimes committed in Darfur, and to allow unhindered access to on-going trials to national and international observers.

The expert warned that the Government, through the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), has clamped down on some civil society organisations and prevented them from engaging with the National Commission on Human Rights in Khartoum. “I again call on the Government to allow civil society organisations to operate freely, to respect the right to freedom of assembly, the freedom of expression, press freedom and also create an enabling environment of free and open political discourse in the on-going constitutional making process,” he said.

“I am also concerned about the arrest and detention of political opposition figures and other individuals by the NISS. I urged the Government to release or promptly charge them with recognizable offences and bring them before a court of law,” he said, recalling that most stake holders he met during this visit consistently raised the issue of human rights violations by the NISS.

On the situation in Darfur, Mr. Baderin highlighted that while the security and human rights situation remains dire, there has been some relative improvement over the years achieved by the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and other UN agencies working in collaboration with the State. However, there still remain major challenges regarding the improvement of the human rights situation, particularly in North, South and Central Darfur due to armed incidents in those areas.

“There was consensus amongst everyone I met that peace and security in Darfur were necessary prerequisites for ensuring the improvement of the human rights situation,” he said. “The full implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur is therefore essential and I urge all stakeholders to renew their commitment in that regard. I also urge the armed groups who have not yet signed the agreement to do so in the interest of permanent peace and stability in the area.”

The Independent Expert, who visited the Sudan at the invitation of the Government, travelled to Khartoum and Darfur, where he met with Government officials, civil society actors, members of the diplomatic Corps and UN agencies. During his next mission, he will focus on South Kordofan, Blue Nile and other parts of the country.

Mr. Baderin will present his findings and recommendations in a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2013.

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