Report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan (A/HRC/39/71) [EN/AR]
Human Rights Council
10–28 September 2018
Agenda item 10
Technical assistance and capacity-building
Note by the Secretariat
The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 36/26.
In its resolution 36/26, the Human Rights Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan for a period of one year and requested him to present a report at its thirty-ninth session. In the present report, which covers the period from September 2017 to June 2018, the Independent Expert analyses the situation of human rights in the Sudan, outlines recent developments and the continuing human rights challenges in the country, assesses the implementation of the recommendations contained in the previous reports of the Independent Expert as well as technical assistance provided to the Government of the Sudan by various bilateral and multilateral partners, identifies additional technical assistance and capacity-building needs and provides a list of recommendations, addressed to the Government and other stakeholders, necessary for improving the situation of human rights in the country.
In its resolution 36/26, the Human Rights Council decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan for a period of one year and requested him to present a report on the implementation of his mandate, including recommendations on technical assistance and capacity-building, for consideration at its thirty-ninth session.
The present report covers the period from 28 September 2017 to 30 June 2018. In compliance with the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the Human Rights Council, a draft report was shared with the Government of the Sudan in order to provide it with an opportunity to comment on the observations and findings of the Independent Expert.
The report is based on information made available to the Independent Expert during his visit to the Sudan, as well as on information provided by the Government of the Sudan, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and other sources, including civil society organizations, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes working in the Sudan, as well as the donor community.
The Independent Expert expresses his gratitude to the Government of the Sudan for its invitation and cooperation, to the Office of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Khartoum and to UNAMID for supporting and facilitating his mission to the country. He also thanks the donor community and civil society organizations for their important work in promoting and protecting human rights in the country.
He also thanks all other organizations, groups and individuals who provided assistance and shared information with him during the period under review.
II. Methodology and engagement
The Independent Expert undertook one visit to the Sudan during the reporting period, from 13 to 23 April 2018, and visited Khartoum and Darfur.
In Khartoum, the Independent Expert held wide-ranging discussions with senior government officials, including the State Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Speaker of the National Assembly, with officials in the Ministry of Justice and specialized government units and agencies, and with members of the Legislative Committee of the National Assembly. He interacted with the Chief Justice and high-ranking members of the judiciary, and had an exchange with the Acting Attorney General. He also had frank and fruitful discussions with the newly appointed Director of the Legal Department of the National Intelligence and Security Service. He was informed of recent developments in the situation of human rights in the country by the Rapporteur and members of the Advisory Council for Human Rights. He also met the new leadership of the Sudan National Commission for Human Rights, the leadership of the Humanitarian Aid Commission, the Chair and members of the Sudan Bar Association and the Chair and members of the National Press Council. He also met with representatives of civil society organizations, human rights defenders and victims of human rights violations and abuses, some of whom shared their personal experiences with him. He met with members of the diplomatic community and representatives of the United Nations country team.
In North Darfur, the Independent Expert met with the Governor of the State of North Darfur, members of the judiciary, including the Special Prosecutor for crimes committed in Darfur, the Regional Representative of the Sudan National Commission for Human Rights, officials of UNAMID and United Nations agencies in North Darfur, and civil society organizations. He also visited Shallah Federal Prison.
III. Key recent developments
During the reporting period, the Government undertook an arms collection campaign in Darfur. The campaign, which started in July 2017, was implemented without major incidents in most areas of the Darfur region. According to information received by the Independent Expert, the campaign appeared to have constrained weapons use by various armed militias and criminals, contributing to improved security, especially in North and South Darfur. Nevertheless, relatively few weapons were collected. In early 2018, the Governor of North Darfur reported that 30,000 weapons (including 9,000 in North Darfur) had been collected out of an estimated 700,000 weapons believed to be in illegal circulation across Darfur. There were also concerns among internally displaced communities that nomadic groups had not been equally disarmed. Several armed militia groups, mostly of Arab ethnicity, continued to pose a threat to civilians in several areas across Darfur.
From January to March 2018, several peaceful demonstrations took place in Khartoum and Darfur to protest against high inflation and austerity measures in the country’s 2018 budget, which has resulted in rising prices of essential commodities.
Reports refer to an excessive and disproportionate use of force by Sudanese security forces to disperse the demonstrations, including the use of lethal force and tear gas, leaving one person dead and several injured in the Darfur city of El Geneina. It is estimated that the National Intelligence and Security Service arrested at least 200 people throughout the country. The majority of arrests took place on 16 and 17 January 2018 during demonstrations called by political opposition parties supporting the protests.
It is also reported that dozens of prominent political activists, human rights defenders and journalists were arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Service from their homes or offices and held incommunicado or taken to undisclosed locations.
Some of the detainees were transferred from Khartoum to Darfur. On a positive note, most detainees were released in April 2018, prior to the Independent Expert’s visit to the Sudan.
For most of the reporting period, the security situation remained relatively stable in Darfur. However, since March 2018 there has been a notable increase in clashes in Jebel Marra, particularly fighting in east Jebel Marra between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid. A series of clashes led to reports of at least 7,300 civilians displaced and the destruction of villages. More than 3,000 new arrivals of internally displaced persons were reported in Otash camp, outside Nyala. Reports indicated that there were also new arrivals of internally displaced in Marshang, Belle El Serief and Kass; these figures are pending verification. Access to many of the affected areas had not been granted to UNAMID or humanitarian actors, which led to temporary disruptions in humanitarian programming in the area.
In addition, in April 2018, at least 11,000 people in north Jebel Marra were displaced to Rokero due to clashes involving armed militias. In May 2018, in Central Darfur, clashes between armed Arab groups and internally displaced persons in camps in Zalingei and Garsila reportedly resulted in multiple deaths among the displaced community. In November 2017, internal fighting was also reported among Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid factions, which reportedly resulted in the killing and injury of civilians, destruction of houses and looting of community assets.
In October 2017, the United States of America lifted long-standing sanctions against the Sudan, citing the country’s progress in fighting terrorism and easing humanitarian distress. The sanctions had included a trade embargo, a freeze on some government assets, and restrictions on Sudanese banks and the ability of foreign banks to do business with the Sudan.
In April 2018, the Chair, Deputy Chair and commissioners of the Sudan National Commission for Human Rights were appointed. The Independent Expert commended the Government of the Sudan for this positive step and reiterated his call on the Sudanese authorities to ensure that the Commission was functioning in compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles).
Although the Government and the armed groups have not agreed on a permanent ceasefire, they continue to extend temporary cessations of hostilities. On 19 March 2018,
President Bashir extended the Government’s unilateral ceasefire until 30 June 2018 while the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi and the Justice and Equality Movement extended theirs until 6 August 2018.
Despite the prolonged period without a mutually agreed cessation of hostilities, no clashes were reported between the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in Blue Nile and South Kordofan during the reporting period.