11 February 2013

Sudan: UN Independent Expert - 'Progress Made but Major Challenges Remain'

Khartoum — The UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Professor Mashood Adebayo Baderin, issued a press statement on Sunday at the end of his second mission to Sudan.

The expert expressed his concern that the crimes related to the conflict in Darfur are currently being tried in the ordinary courts and that human rights officers have been denied access to these trials. He urges the government to ensure that the Special Courts for Crimes committed in Darfur as stipulated under the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) are made operational and that national and international observers are allowed unhindered access to on-going trials.

The expert stated it is evident that the government through the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has clamped down on some civil society organisations and prevented them from submitting a complaint to the National Commission on Human Rights in Khartoum. "Such prevention is a clear hindrance on the function of the Commission", he added.

Also, he renewed his 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.

In addition he expressed his concern about the arrest and detention of political opposition figures and other individuals by the NISS and urged the government to release or promptly charge them with recognizable offences and bring them before a court of law. He emphasised that the NISS, as a state institution, should be mindful of human rights considerations when carrying out its functions.

On the situation in Darfur, he said that while the security and human rights situation remains dire, there has been some relative improvement over the years as a result of the good work of 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, the press statement continues.

In North Darfur, the issue of lack of security and denial of humanitarian access impacted on the enjoyment of human rights, according to the statement. The tribal clashes in Jebel 'Amer and other areas such as Kutum, Abu Deleg, Saraf Omra and Kabkabiya have led to civilian casualties and displacements.

Moreover, other issues of concern in Darfur include the safety of IDP returnees, protection of civilians in the conflict areas and impunity and the protection of women and children's rights are also issues of concern, it was added.

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