The Government of Sudan must act on allegations of human rights abuse by its security sector, a United Nations independent expert has urged following his visit to the country.
"I must emphasise that violations of human rights by the NISS [National Intelligence and Security Services] have been raised consistently by most stakeholders I met during this visit and I urge the Government to take this matter seriously," said the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin.
Voicing concern at the apparent restrictions on civil society organizations, he told a news conference in the capital, Khartoum, yesterday that the Government must create a conducive environment in which these organizations can operate.
"It is evident that the Government through the NISS has clamped down on some civil society organizations and prevented them from submitting a complaint to the National Commission on Human Rights in Khartoum," said Mr. Baderin, who last visited the country in June.
"I again call on the Government to allow civil society organizations 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 ongoing constitution-making process."
Mr. Baderin, who plans to present his final report to the Human Rights Council in September, said he was also concerned about the arrest and detention of political opposition figures and other individuals by the NISS.
Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
During the eight-day mission, Mr. Baderin met with Government officials and civil society organizations in Khartoum and El-Fasher, Darfur, as well as members of the diplomatic community and UN agencies, funds and programmes. He also visited a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Abu Shouk near El-Fasher.
On issues in Darfur, he highlighted the safety of IDP returnees, protection of civilians in conflict areas - particularly women and children - and impunity.
During the field visit, Mr. Baderin stopped by a modern juvenile reformatory centre and court which he called "steps in the right direction" to counter poor conditions in prisons and the need to improve juvenile justice.
Before leaving, he praised the Government for steps taken towards implementing the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Recommendations which he will be watching, particularly in the areas of administration of justice, law reform, and ratification of identified human rights treaties.