The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 ushered in a new era for the Sudan, ending over 20 years of civil strife and paving the way for the independence of South Sudan in 2011 by popular referendum. The Sudan, however, continues to face a number of human rights challenges. While progress has been made in legislative and institutional reforms, the overall democratic transformation of the Sudan has remained precarious. Parts of the legal framework, such as the National Security Act and the Criminal Act, infringe on fundamental rights and freedoms. The harmonization of national laws with international human rights principles, as envisaged by the CPA, has advanced at a slow pace. Restrictions on civil and political rights persist. Increasing demands by political opposition groups, civil society organizations and students for democratic reforms have been met with arrests and detention by the security forces. Impunity for human rights violations remains a recurring problem.
In the three Protocol Areas of the Sudan – Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states -, as well as in other border areas, clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have caused human rights violations and large scale displacements. The implementation of political agreements and the finalization of negotiations between the Sudan and South Sudan are critical for the improvement of the human rights situation in these areas, as well as for wider regional stability. The Office of the High Commissioner has repeatedly requested access to Abyei to monitor the human rights situation.
In Darfur, while a comprehensive solution to the conflict has proven elusive, there have been some encouraging developments. Political progress has been made with the signing of the Doha Darfur Peace Document between the Government and some of the armed opposition groups and improved relations between Chad and the Sudan, including joint border patrolling, have contributed to improving the overall security environment in West Darfur. However, continued fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and armed opposition groups in other areas underscores the need for the protection of civilians as Darfur continues to be characterized by large-scale displacement. While figures have fluctuated throughout the year due to seasonal movement patterns and other factors, up to 1.9 million people are estimated to remain displaced throughout Darfur, and rely on humanitarian agencies for the provision of basic services.
In 2005, Security Council resolution 1590 mandated the Human Rights Section of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to assist in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the conflict between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). UNMIS’ Human Rights Section issued public reports to raise awareness and highlighted violations of international human rights law, particularly regarding accountability and the protection of civilians. The mandate of UNMIS which covered North and Southern Sudan expired in July 2011. Since the expiration of the mandate, OHCHR does not have a presence in the Sudan beyond Darfur.
Sudan participated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the Human Rights Council in May 2011, but has yet to ratify other key universal human rights treaties including like the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
In September 2011, the Human Rights Council renewed the mandate of the Independent Expert (IE) on the situation of human rights in the Sudan for a period of one year. Whereas the mandate used to make explicit reference to the monitoring by the IE of the human rights situation in Sudan, the new mandate asks the IE to focus solely on technical assistance and capacity-building to aid the Sudan in fulfilling its human rights obligations.
OHCHR works in Darfur through the Human Rights Section (HRS) of the peace-keeping operation UNAMID. The Human Rights Section was actively involved in mainstreaming human rights in the Darfur mediation process, in particular by providing support to the participation of civil society in the Doha Peace Talks. Partly as a result of this, the DDPD contains substantive provisions on human rights and provides for the establishment of human rights and justice institutions, such as the National Human Rights Commission, the Darfur Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Special Criminal Courts to address widespread impunity in Darfur. OHCHR’s engagement in Darfur focuses primarily on assisting with the development of a comprehensive transitional justice strategy to reconcile communities, support reparations for victims of human rights violations and develop mechanisms to prevent future human rights violations. OHCHR also supports right-holders and duty-bearers in efforts to eradicate sexual and gender-based violence.