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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release on the Human Rights Promotion Mission Undertaken by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to the Republic of The Sudan from 22 to 28 May 2015

Following authorisation by the Government of the Republic of The Sudan (The Sudan), a delegation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) undertook a Promotion Mission to The Sudan from 22 to 28 May 2015.

This Mission, which is part of the Commission’s promotion mandate, was undertaken in accordance with Article 45(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter).

The objectives of the Mission included: promoting the African Charter and other regional and international human rights instruments; strengthening relations between the Commission and The Sudan; engaging with relevant stakeholders; exchanging views on ways and means of enhancing the enjoyment of human rights in the country; and seeking information on human rights issues of particular concern to the Commission, including the human rights situation of women, children, elderly persons, persons with disabilities, individuals in detention, and persons living with HIV/AIDS.

The Commission’s delegation was led by Honourable Commissioner Lawrence Murugu Mute, Commissioner Rapporteur for the Human Rights Situation in The Sudan and the Chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa. He was accompanied by Honourable Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, the Chairperson of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV and Those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV, and Honourable Commissioner Med S. K. Kaggwa, the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa. They were assisted by Ms Anita Bagona, Ms Albab Tesfaye, and Mr Philbert Bayeka, staff of the Secretariat of the Commission, as well as Ms Elizabeth Kyalo, Assistant to Honourable Commissioner Mute.

During the Mission, the delegation held fruitful discussions with the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Welfare and Social Security, Health, and Energy and Mining; and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

The delegation met with the Advisory Council for Human Rights, the National Council of Persons with Disabilities, the National Commission for Human Rights, the Refugees Commission, and the Humanitarian Aid Commission.

The delegation was briefed by the African Union Liaison Office in The Sudan and the International Partners Forum on the human rights situation in The Sudan. It further met with the Council of African Political Parties.  

The delegation also held meetings with civil society organisations, media practitioners and human rights defenders.

The delegation visited the Al-Huda Prison and Reformatory Centre and the Omdurman Female Prison.

The delegation carried out a lecture to the students of the International University of Africa.

The delegation travelled to North Darfur where it held meetings with the Darfur Regional Authority, the Special Prosecutor for Crimes in Darfur, the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur, and representatives of various internally displaced persons camps in North Darfur.

During these meetings, the delegation discussed the general human rights situation in The Sudan and explored the extent to which the exercise of human rights in the country is respected and protected.

The delegation notes with appreciation the consistent participation of The Sudan in the Ordinary Sessions of the Commission.                                                                                                        

The delegation commends the Government of The Sudan for adopting some policy and legislative measures in line with the rights guaranteed under the African Charter.

The delegation notes with satisfaction the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights; the National Council of Persons with Disabilities; the Violence against Women Unit; and the Council for Child Welfare. It further commends the establishment of human rights focal points in some ministries; the notable representation of women in decision making bodies including the recent increase in the quota of women in the National Assembly from 25 percent to 30 percent; efforts to align the Al-Huda Prison and Reformatory Centre with international standards; the significant measures taken in the health sector, in particular the outstanding management of the HIV/AIDS pandemic including ensuring HIV/AIDS treatment for non-citizens as well as the treatment of most at risk populations; the recent amendment to Article 149 of the 1991 Penal Act which detaches rape from adultery; the existence of social schemes aimed at protecting vulnerable groups such as children and persons with disabilities; efforts to find alternatives to mercury in mining; and the villagisation programme in Darfur for the voluntary return of internally displaced persons.

The delegation notes that certain challenges inhibit the full realisation and enjoyment of human rights in The Sudan, including the following: poverty; capital punishment; corporal punishment; torture and ill-treatment in some places of detention; arrest and prolonged arbitrary detention; excessive use of force during protests and lack of expeditious investigation and prosecution particularly in relation to the September 2013 killings; gender-based violence; conflict in parts of The Sudan, specifically Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile; the use of child soldiers; lack of assistance to refugees in urban areas; lack of adequate assistance and protection for internally displaced persons; adequate safeguards for miners; human trafficking; smuggling of mineral resources; lack of specific legal provisions criminalising torture; the non-participation of key opposition parties in the recent electoral processes; the non-ratification of relevant regional and international human rights instruments; over-crowding in the Omdurman Female Prison; lack of financial resources for the effective functioning of the National Human Rights Commission; adverse effects of sanctions on human rights; legal provisions which limit women’s rights; harmful traditional practices which affect the rights of women and children including female genital mutilation and child marriage; restrictions on freedom of association, assembly and expression, particularly the closing down of non-governmental organisations and the confiscation of newspapers; and polarisation and politicisation of non-governmental organisations.

The Commission will present a detailed report on the mission in which it will make its recommendations.

In the meantime, the delegation commends the Government of The Sudan for authorising the Commission to undertake this Promotion Mission and encourages the Government to strengthen its commitments, programmes, plans and policies to promote and protect human rights.

The delegation calls on the Government of The Sudan:

·         To address the vagueness apparent in some of its legislation which limits the enjoyment of certain human rights guaranteed under the African Charter and other regional and international human rights instruments;

·          To expedite the prohibition of child marriage, female genital mutilation and other practices which negatively affect the rights of women and girl;

·         To expressly criminalise torture and ill-treatment and establish a National Preventive Mechanism;

·         To expedite its ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples' Rights, African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  and its Optional Protocol, Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;

·         To harmonise the country’s legislation with regional and international human rights instruments ratified by The Sudan; 

·         To provide the National Human Rights Commission with adequate technical and financial resources for it to effectively implement its mandate; 

·         To ensure that civil society organisations with human rights and governance functions as well as the media operate without undue interference and that they are not proscribed or prevented from undertaking their work without due process;

·         To accord due protection to human rights defenders;

·         To submit its sixth periodic report to the Commission and to involve all stakeholders in the preparation of the report;

·         To implement fully the recommendations of the Commission in Communications in respect of which the Commission made findings against The Sudan.

The delegation encourages the international community to strengthen its support to the Darfur Peace Process and, in particular, more effort should be deployed to expedite a transitional justice framework for Darfur.

The delegation calls on the international community to continue providing the Government of The Sudan with the necessary financial, material and technical resources in the area of human rights promotion and protection.

The delegation conveys its sincere thanks and appreciation to the Government of The Sudan for extending an invitation to the Commission for the undertaking of this promotion mission, for the facilities availed throughout the visit, and for the welcome and warm hospitality accorded to it.

The delegation is indebted to the African Union Liaison Office in The Sudan for its invaluable support throughout the mission.

Done in Khartoum, 28 May 2015