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University of Khartoum professor: 'Sudan needs transitional justice'

October 4 - 2019 KHARTOUM
The Popular Court in Kabkabiya, North Darfur (RD)
The Popular Court in Kabkabiya, North Darfur (RD)

The grave human rights violations committed against the Sudanese and transitional justice should be the top priorities for both the government and the armed movements the coming 38 months, says Mohamed Abdelsalam, professor of International Law at the University of Khartoum. “It will make negotiations and a democratic transition in Sudan possible.”

Transitional justice consists of judicial and non-judicial measures implemented in order to redress legacies of human rights abuses. Such measures include criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programmes, and various kinds of institutional reforms. Transitional justice is enacted at a point of political transition from violence and repression to societal stability (or at times years later) and it is informed by a society’s desire to rebuild social trust, repair a fractured justice system, and build a democratic system of governance.

The core value of transitional justice is the very notion of justice—which does not necessarily mean criminal justice. This notion and the political transformation, such as regime change or transition from conflict, are thus linked toward a more peaceful, certain, and democratic future.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga professor Abdelsalam called for legal and institutional reform before starting trials or establishing commissions. “Sudan needs institutional reform in the judiciary, the public prosecution, the army, the police and other institutions that provide public services.”

“If the criminal justice system, its institutions and its laws, will not be reformed, it will not be capable nor willing to prosecute the serious human rights violations and crimes that took place in the country. We need the establishment of institutions and courts that are in accordance with international standards.”

Constitutional Declaration

Abdelsalam expressed concern that the Constitutional Declaration, that mentions a Transitional Justice Commission, does not detail how this commission will be established, what powers it will be granted and who will sit on it. According to professor Abdelsalam this is the case with all the commissions mentioned in the Constitutional Document.

“The Transitional Justice Commission and the Legal Reform Commission are the most important commissions to achieve transitional justice”, he stated. He called for the establishment of these commissions independently of the Cabinet, the Sovereign Council and the Legislative Council. “Otherwise, it will not complete its tasks or play its role effectively.”

The professor said he seeks a broad dialogue through the establishment of commissions that are to be established by the prime minister, in order to determine the powers and authorities of these two commissions and who will be its members.

He stressed that all of Sudan needs transitional justice, but this is even more the case in war zones such as Darfur. “The nature of the crimes committed, the fact that the perpetrators of these crimes also involve the state and the urgency to have effective institutions that can realise justice, all make transitional justice in Darfur necessary.”

The interview with professor Abdelsalam is part of a Radio Dabanga series on transitional justice.


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