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Sudan Sovereign Council ‘must ratify’ UN Convention against enforced disappearances

December 4 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Vigil is held on August 27 to remember Sudanese protestors who went missing following a violent crackdown in Khartoum on June 3 last year (social media)
Vigil is held on August 27 to remember Sudanese protestors who went missing following a violent crackdown in Khartoum on June 3 last year (social media)

More than 20 national and international civil society organisations called on the transitional government to expedite the ratification of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) yesterday.

The organisations said “the government must demonstrate its commitment to ending decades of systematic violations of human rights” in a letter to Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and Minister of Justice Nasreldin Abdelbari.

The letter demanded that the transitional government must ratify the two major international human rights treaties, which form a critical step towards preventing torture and enforced disappearances in Sudan.

"The ratification of these treaties will send a strong signal about the commitment of Sudan's transitional government to strengthen the protection of human rights in the country and put an end to decades of human rights violations," said Charlie Loudon, international law advisor at REDRESS.

Among the organisations which signed letter are REDRESS, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Journalists Network, Christian Solidarity, and the Sudanese Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Development.

The organizations renewed their commitment to assist the transitional government in its endeavour to create a safe and just Sudan.

Partial approval

October 6, the Council of Ministers approved the ratification of the UNCAT and ICPPED. The move followed years of advocacy efforts by Sudanese activists and international partners.

However, the decision still needs to be approved by the Sovereign Council, the Forces for Freedom and Change and the rebel movements that signed the Juba peace agreement.

Any country ratifying the convention must “take appropriate measures to investigate acts defined in article 2 [enforced disappearance] committed by persons or groups of persons acting without the authorization, support or acquiescence of the state and to bring those responsible to justice”. They must also “take the necessary measures to ensure that enforced disappearance constitutes an offence under its criminal law”.

Protection of 'guilty' parties

During a workshop for ‘Building a National Strategy to Combat Enforced Disappearances’ in Khartoum on November 24, Ministry of Justice representative Ishraga Osman accused “executives” in the country of protecting people guilty of human trafficking, which is often followed by torture and murder.

She stated that legislation in Sudan can only deal with enforced disappearances if they comply with international legislation and conventions.

An investigation report of the Sudanese Archive and the Human Rights Center Investigation Lab UC Berkeley, states that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and other security forces are responsible for the violent dispersal of sit-ins across Khartoum in June last year, when more than 100 people went missing.

The investigating committee has been criticised by activists and relatives of protestors killed during the massacre for not publishing a final report sooner. Adib, who blames the delay on COVID-19, explained that the committee “insists on accuracy and the submission of an integrated criminal case to the court”.

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