Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sudan: UN independent expert calls on Sudan to further implement human rights obligations

15 June 2012 – Following his first official mission to Sudan, a United Nations independent expert today urged the country’s Government to take further steps to effectively implement its human rights obligations.

“There is a need for capacity building in the form of relevant human rights training for members of the judiciary, the Ministry of Justice, the legislature, the police and non-governmental human rights organisations, amongst others, in addition to the promotion of public awareness and human rights empowerment initiatives,” the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, said in a news release.

Recognizing initial measures taken by Sudanese authorities – such as the establishment of a National Commission for Human Rights – the Independent Expert said further steps need to be taken.

“I have also identified the need to encourage the Government to include the promotion of human rights amongst its priority funding considerations,” Mr. Baderin said. “There is also the need to attract the interest and expand the list of possible donor countries and partnering institutions to include regional partners to facilitate more confidence and trust between the Government and the international community.”

The Independent Expert said it is essential to ensure transparency, inclusiveness and the participation of independent civil society organisations in the current constitutional review exercise; as well as to preserve the fundamental human rights contained in the current Bill of Rights.

Mr. Baderin also called for freedom of expression and the press to be guaranteed, making specific reference to the use of national security laws to clamp down on the press, including closure of media houses, arrest of journalists and confiscation of newspapers and equipment.

“I have raised this issue in my discussions with Government officials as a legitimate concern, which the Government needs to pay attention to, in view of the importance of freedom of expression and of the press in the promotion and protection of human rights in a democratic society,” he said.

During his five-day mission, between 10-14 June, Mr. Baderin met with Government representatives and other stakeholders, as well as the diplomatic corps and UN agencies.

The Independent Expert will present his findings and recommendations at the UN Human Rights Council’s 21st session in September. 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 United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.

Separately, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali Al-Za’tari, is carrying out extensive consultations to better understand the reasons behind the decision of the country’s Humanitarian Aid Commission to terminate the projects of seven international non-governmental organizations in eastern Sudan by the end of June 2012.

“While I appreciate the efforts being made by the Government to build national capacities, I was hoping that there would be much greater consultation between the Government and concerned parties such as the UN and humanitarian organizations on such a critical decision,” Mr. Al-Za’tari ýsaid in a news release from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Preliminary assessments by the United Nations and its partners indicate that there is a continuing need for humanitarian assistance in eastern Sudan, and that cooperation in delivering this assistance is essential.

“I hope that this decision does not result in a major disruption of humanitarian and development activities in eastern Sudan, undermining the constructive relationship that has been ýbuilt between State authorities and international organizations,” Mr. Al-Za’tari added.