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CSOs call for a strong human rights mandate on Sudan

September 5 - 2018 KHARTOUM
ACJPS Executive Director delivers a statement at the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, September 27, 2017 (ACJPS)
ACJPS Executive Director delivers a statement at the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, September 27, 2017 (ACJPS)

In advance of the 39th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, more than 30 civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the members of the council to adopt a strong monitoring and reporting mandate on Sudan.

The UNHRC should mandate a special rapporteur “to monitor, verify and report on ongoing human rights violations and abuses as well as violations of international humanitarian law, recommend concrete ways to end them, and urge the Government of Sudan to implement the recommendations made to it by UN human rights bodies and mechanisms,” 32 Sudanese and international civil society organisations wrote in an open letter to the Council – published by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) on its website on Tuesday.

“Our organisations are concerned about the suppression of peaceful protests by government security forces with unlawful use of excessive force, attacks on the media and impermissible restrictions on access to information, targeting of various civil society actors including human rights defenders, activists, journalists, bloggers and other dissenting voices with threats, intimidation, harassment, arbitrary detention and trumped-up criminal prosecutions, other restrictions on independent civil society, use of torture and other ill-treatment by national security officials, and on-going violations in the conflict areas of Darfur, South Kordofan. and Blue Nile,” the letter reads.

The CSOs also express their concern about the downsizing of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid) while the security situation has not improved. They further point to government militia assaults on people living in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Sudanese authorities have also continued to restrict basic freedoms of assembly and association through violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters and other restrictions on civil society organizations and on independent voices. The authorities reportedly use “other repressive laws and various forms of harassment, including sexual harassment” to target activists.

Restrictions on the media continue, especially during protests. The national security agency has continued to apply post-print censorship to daily newspapers and prohibit chief editors from publishing on issues deemed controversial or critical of the ruling party, the organisations state.

They further point to the repression of the rights of women, including through the Public Order Law that criminalises “indecent dress” such as wearing trousers, and of Christians in the country, as “freedom of religion or belief continues to be restricted in Sudan”.

In the light of the continuing gross human rights violations across the country, “it is imperative that the UN Human Rights Council take stronger action to ensure continued attention to the human rights situation in Sudan,” the 32 organisations state.

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