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Human Rights Council holds Interactive debate with Independent Expert on the Sudan

Human Rights Council
MORNING 17 September 2010

The Human Rights Council this morning held an interactive debate with the Independent Expert on the Sudan.

Mohamed Chande Othman, Independent Expert on the Sudan, introducing his report, commended the Government of the Sudan for taking steps towards the implementation of some of the recommendations made by the Council's Group of Experts on Darfur. In spite of these achievements, there was a lack of progress in other areas, and he urged the Government to continue the process of law reform to conform to international human rights standards. In Southern Sudan, increasing communal violence continued to result in the large loss of lives, particularly among women and children. In Darfur, the conflict and political dynamics had changed considerably in the last few years, and the conflict was now characterised by several distinct patterns of violence including armed hostilities, banditry and criminality, direct and indiscriminate attacks on civilians by all parties to the conflict, and inter-communal violence. The Sudan was at a critical juncture in its history, and it was essential that the authorities uphold human rights principles - the international community should engage and support the Sudan towards this goal.

Speaking as a concerned country, Sudan thanked the Independent Expert for his efforts in highlighting the human rights situation in the Sudan in a relatively balanced manner compared to previous reports. The Government of National Unity had always shown a strong commitment to cooperate with United Nations mechanisms working in the field of human rights. This commitment was evidenced by the many invitations extended to the thematic and country mandate holders who had visited Sudan. However, Sudan continued to be inundated with human rights mechanisms such as the Independent Expert, the United Nations Mission, the Hybrid Mission in Darfur and various other United Nations human rights monitors. The Council should devote the same effort used on targeting Sudan to further building and developing national capacities through technical assistance. The Sudan concluded by saying that it was imperative to terminate the Special Procedure mandate on its country.

In the interactive debate, speakers said, among other things, that only a strong partnership and collaboration could achieve the collective aim - the Council should be a support for the Government of the Sudan, and should focus on the broad picture and building an atmosphere of trust, helping the Government to receive normalcy, and implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, providing the necessary support to the Government in this regard. The Government of the Sudan had been able to gain the confidence of the people, and therefore should be able to gain the confidence of the international community. It was useful for the Government of the Sudan to strive to implement the recommendations on all levels, and the United Nations and the international community should provide all necessary support.

Speakers noted some positive developments in the Sudan such as participation of women in the election process, but added that major problems persisted: some of those were attacks on the United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and civilian population, and sexual violence, and the civilian population remained the principal victim of violence in the Sudan. Speakers did not agree on whether it was necessary to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert, some calling for it to be ended, others for its renewal. One speaker noted that the Council needed to follow a cooperative approach while discussing the human rights situation of any particular country - if such initiatives did not enjoy the support of the country concerned, they could not add any value or make a difference on the ground.

Speaking this morning were Nigeria on behalf of the African Group, Egypt, Syria on behalf of the Arab Group, European Union, Yemen, Algeria, Israel, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Qatar, Canada, United States, Libya, Syria, France, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Lebanon, Ireland, Australia, Iraq, Iran, Thailand, League of Arab States, Slovenia, Japan, Honduras, Tunisia, Norway, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Sweden, Netherlands, Bahrain, Palestine, and African Union.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Human Rights Watch and Cairo Institute for Human Rights.

The next meeting of the Council will be at 3 p.m. this afternoon, when it will conclude its interactive debate with the Independent Expert on the Sudan, after which it will begin its general debate under item four, namely human rights situations requiring the Council's attention.

Documents

The Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, Mohammed Chande Othman (A/HRC/14/41) examines the human rights situation in the country and finds that South Sudan continues to be plagued by increasing tribal violence with attendant loss of lives especially among women and children. Tensions between ethnic groups, competition over resources, resistance to disarmament and occasional acts of indiscipline by armed state agents such as members of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army are the most common causes of the violence in the South. Also underlying the violence is the widespread proliferation of arms along with the increased militarization of civilian communities. In Darfur, notwithstanding the general improvement in the security situation, banditry, criminal activities and intermittent military activities by the parties to the conflict have continued.

Report on the status of implementation of recommendations compiled by the Group of Experts mandated by the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/14/41/Add.1) assesses the measures taken by the Government of the Sudan to implement the recommendations compiled by the expert group and provides the Human Rights Council with as detailed a description and analysis of the status of implementation as possible.

Corrigendum (A/HRC/14/41/Corr.1) states that Paragraph 56, line 6 should read, “At least 40 people were killed and many civilians displaced.”

Update on the addendum to the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan (A/HRC/14/41/Add.1), (A/HRC/15/57), follows up the first report of the independent expert and focuses on the response provided by the government of the Sudan on 17 May 2010 and additional information subsequently obtained from other sources, including the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, the United Nations Mission in the Sudan and United Nations agencies, bodies and programmes with operational competence in Darfur.

Progress Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, Mohammed Chande Othman, (A/HRC/15/CRP.1), covers the period May to August 2010. This progress report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 11/10 of 18 June 2009, which established the mandate of the independent expert and requested him to monitor the human rights situation in the Sudan and report to the Council.

Presentation by Independent Expert on the Sudan

Mohamed Chande Othman, Independent Expert on the Sudan, introducing his report, said his first report covered the period from June 2009 to April 2010, summing up the findings of his visit from 23 January to 11 February, and the second report covered May to August 2010. With regard to his first report, he had visited the Sudan, and noted considerable progress made in institutional and legislative reforms by the Government of National Unity in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005. He also commended the Government for taking steps towards the implementation of some of the recommendations made by the Council's Group of Experts on Darfur. In spite of these achievements, there was a lack of progress in other areas, and he urged the Government to continue the process of law reform to conform to international human rights standards. The Independent Expert was also deeply concerned about the application of the death penalty in the Sudan, and urged the Government to ensure that its application occurred in a very strictly defined set of circumstances. The Independent Expert was disappointed that some opposition parties did not participate in general elections held in April, but was encouraged by the fact that voting went ahead peacefully in most places, with an important percentage of Sudanese exercising their right to vote. There were however a number of incidents where the exercise of civil and political rights was frustrated through harassments, arrests and detentions.

In Southern Sudan, increasing communal violence continued to result in the large loss of lives, particularly among women and children. In Darfur, the conflict and political dynamics had changed considerably in the last few years, and the conflict was now characterised by several distinct patterns of violence including armed hostilities, banditry and criminality, direct and indiscriminate attacks on civilians by all parties to the conflict, and inter-communal violence. In spite of the concrete steps taken to implement some of the recommendations of the Group of Experts, the Independent Expert was deeply concerned that a significant number had not been implemented. The second report did not benefit from a mission to the Sudan, but the information contained in it had been obtained from reliable sources. The Government had continued steps towards democratic transformation, however, since the elections in April, the human rights situation had been characterised by restrictions in the enjoyment of civil and political rights, and curtailment of the freedom of expression and the press. The Independent Expert was also deeply troubled by the violence and widespread human rights abuses that characterised the post-election period in Southern Sudan. In Darfur, armed violence and insecurity arising from banditry and the threat of abduction persisted. Women and young girls continued to experience insecurity as a result of sexual and gender-based violence. On a positive note, the Government had put forward a new peace strategy for Darfur which would allow a wider spectrum of the Darfur civil society to participate in the political process. Sudan was at a critical juncture in its history, and it was essential that the authorities uphold human rights principles - the international community should engage and support Sudan towards this goal. The Independent Expert urged the Government to build on the progress made and promptly address the deficit in the protection of human rights, and the Council should remain engaged in the Sudan until it was assured of tangible and lasting improvement in the human rights situation on the ground.

Statement by Concerned Country

JOHN UKEC LUETH UKEC (Sudan), speaking as a concerned country, thanked the Independent Expert for his efforts in highlighting the human rights situation in the Sudan in a relatively balanced manner compared to previous reports. Sudan noted with satisfaction the fact that the Independent Expert had acknowledged a number of significant improvements that had been made by the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan in addressing human rights issues. The Independent Expert took note of the general security improvements in Darfur and the steps taken by the Government to implement the recommendations of the Group of Experts on Darfur.

The Sudanese delegation highlighted the fact that the Independent Expert had recognized the success with which the Government had conducted multiparty general elections at all levels of government in April 2010, marking a major step towards democratic transition. The voting process was for the most part orderly and peaceful and conducted within a well-maintained security environment. Moreover, a significant percentage of eligible Sudanese citizens exercised their right to vote. The elections also involved the full participation of women as well as special arrangements that were made for prisoners, hospital patients and people with disabilities to participate. The election, which had been monitored by observers from the African Union, the Arab League of Arab States and the European Union, confirmed that no evidence of fraud had been detected.

The Government of National Unity had always shown a strong commitment to cooperate with United Nations mechanisms working in the field of human rights. This commitment was evidenced by the many invitations extended to the thematic and country mandate holders who had visited Sudan. However, Sudan continued to be inundated with human rights mechanisms such as the Independent Expert, the United Nations Mission (UNMIS), the Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and various other United Nations human rights monitors. The Council should devote the same effort used on targeting Sudan to further building and developing national capacities through technical assistance. The Sudan concluded by saying that it was imperative to terminate the Special Procedure mandate on its country.

Interactive Dialogue with Independent Expert on the Sudan

OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria) speaking on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the Independent Expert on human rights situation in the Sudan and commended him for his fairly balanced report. The interactive dialogue on the situation in the Sudan would be of benefit to both the Government and the Human Rights Council. The visit of the Independent Expert to the Sudan demonstrated the willingness of the Government to cooperate with the United Nations human rights mechanisms and to improve human rights situation in the country. The concrete steps undertaken by the Government of the Sudan to implement the recommendations of a number of experts were commendable. Turning to the national elections in the Sudan, the African Group underlined that the conclusions of all observers indicated there was no malpractice by the National Electoral Commission. The African Group was pleased to recognize the commitment of the Government of the Sudan to unconditionally implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Most of its provisions were already implemented with the exception of the referendum scheduled for 2011. It was useful for the Government of the Sudan to strive to implement the recommendations on all levels, and the African Group hoped the United Nations and the international community would provide all necessary support.

HISHAM BADR (Egypt) said the constructive engagement of the Independent Expert with the Government of the Sudan was appreciated. All the reports documented that the work was in progress, with tangible improvement on the ground, the situation improving in Darfur, and complex challenges remaining due to the complex situation. The Government had indeed been able to realise some qualitative improvement in the human rights situation in the country, and the achievement of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Egypt believed that only a strong partnership and collaboration could achieve the collective aim - the Council should be a support for the Government, and should focus on the broad picture and building an atmosphere of trust, helping the Government to receive normalcy, and implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, providing the necessary support to the Government in this regard.

FAYSAL KHABBAZ HAMOUI (Syria), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that the Arab Group appreciated the report on the human rights situation in the Sudan, which pointed to major advancements in the field of human rights, including constitutional reforms. The transitional Constitution had been adopted and other legislative measures had been taken to ensure the protection of human rights. The general elections of 2010 were monitored by a number of international observers, all of which confirmed the peaceful and transparent manner in which the elections were conducted. The Arab Group had taken note of the many reports submitted by the various mandate holders and recognized the progress made by the Sudanese Government in resolving ongoing conflicts. The Government had engaged in dialogue and negotiations with the different rebel groups operating in the country and this showed a genuine desire for the Sudan to find a settlement and create lasting peace. Finally, given these achievements, the Arab Group recommended the termination of the Independent Expert’s mandate and asked that the Government of the Sudan continue to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms and implement their recommendations.

NICOLE RECKINGER (European Union) said the European Union noted some positive developments in the Sudan such as participation of women in the election process, but major problems persisted. Some of those were attacks on the United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and the civilian population, and sexual violence. It emerged from the report that the civilian population remained the principal victim of violence in the Sudan and the European Union asked what could be done to improve their protection. The European Union also wanted to hear what more could be done to speed up demobilisation of child soldiers. In the light of the upcoming referendum in January 2011, what were the views of the Independent Expert to prepare for this important event? The European Union reiterated the support for the peaceful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the stepping up of the fight against impunity. The mandate had a key role to play and the European Union was in favour of its extension.

IBRAHIM SAIED MOHAMED AL-ADOOFI (Yemen) said the Independent Expert was able to do excellent work that deserved appreciation, and the positive position of Sudan was commended, as the Independent Expert would not have been able to do such excellent work without the cooperation of the authorities. The Independent Expert did justice to the Government by praising it for the cooperation and assistance it provided to facilitate his mandate. The openness of the Government to human rights and civil society organizations was clear. The Independent Expert was able to meet these organizations on the ground, and the Expert also commended the non-governmental organizations on their work and further praised the positive cooperation. There was no need to renew the mandate on Sudan, and this was due to the clear evidence in the report, and the significant political developments in Sudan, where there had been major legal and political reforms based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and the Government had made significant efforts to implement the recommendations of the Group of Experts. There was a clear will to work for peace in the Sudan. The Government had been able to gain the confidence of the people, and therefore should be able to gain the confidence of the international community.

IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria) congratulated the Sudanese Government for holding successful elections and asked the Independent Expert to provide his opinions on the elections. Algeria noted with pleasure the numerous advancements made by the Sudanese Government in the field of human rights and that a referendum was set for next year on the right to self-determination for South Sudan. Algeria took note of the creation of human rights forums and also the significant decrease in violence in Darfur and the signing of two important peace agreements with rebel groups. Algeria stated that UNMIS and other human rights mechanisms were operating on the ground in the Sudan and were capable of monitoring the human rights situation. Algeria therefore asked for the Council to find a compromise in which the Sudanese Government was not unjustifiably targeted by human rights mechanisms.

WALID ABU-HAYA (Israel) said Israel viewed the signing of another agreement with the Justice and Liberation Movements in March 2010 and the progress in the demobilisation of child soldiers as positive indicators and evidence for hope in the region. Israel remained gravely concerned about the lack of real implementation of key recommendations made by the Group of Experts and the increasingly deteriorating human rights situation on the ground. There were reports of killings and harassments of human rights defenders and prevailing sexual violence against women in Darfur and other areas of the Sudan. The culture of impunity had reached proportions of a staggering magnitude. Israel strongly supported the work of the Independent Expert and his recommendations and that was why Israel lent its support to the renewal of the mandate for another year.

MUHAMMAD SAEED SARWAR (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the report acknowledged the significant advances made by the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan in addressing human rights and related issues. The Sudan had introduced institutional and legislative reforms in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the interim Constitution. The report also acknowledged that general improvement had been achieved in Darfur in a number of areas, in particular the security situation, banditry, and criminal activities. With regard to the situation in Darfur, the report confirmed that the conflict and political dynamics had changed considerably over the last few years: improvements were seen in a number of areas including a decrease in sexual violence and combating gender-based violence. The Government was encouraged to remove obstacles to the implementation of all national, regional and international agreements. The Organization of the Islamic Conference was of the view that the Sudan was right on track. It was time to end the duplicity of mechanisms and the Council should be able to utilize the comprehensive information coming from existing mechanisms. The Council needed to follow a cooperative approach while discussing the human rights situation of any particular country - if such initiatives did not enjoy the support of the country concerned, they could not add any value or make a difference on the ground.

ABDULLA FALAH ABDULLA AL-DOSARI (Qatar) said that Qatar read with great interest the report of the Independent Expert. The war in South Sudan had ended and a comprehensive peace agreement had been signed. The Government of the Sudan had fulfilled its international obligations and had taken steps to protect the safety of international aid workers. The general elections of this year went smoothly and a number of parliamentary seats were devoted to women. The current situation in the Sudan was very different from the bleak picture often portrayed of the country. A clear view of the reality needed to be disseminated internationally to counter false views on the country. The Sudanese Government was indeed trying to bring about domestic reconciliation in order to ensure peaceful coexistence within its territory. For these reasons, the mandate of the Independent Expert did not need to be continued. Finally, Qatar asked the Independent Expert to elaborate further on the level of cooperation that he received from the Sudanese Government.
TAMARA LORRE (Canada) said Canada was concerned about the return of violence to Darfur and South Sudan, particularly against women and children. The expulsion of humanitarian workers and the restriction on movements of the United Nations staff had had a negative impact on the capacity of the system to deliver assistance and protection to the civilian population. The elections had been fraught with allegations of fraud and a large number of the internally displaced persons were not able to exercise their right to vote. That was why Canada supported the extension of this mandate. Canada asked how to ensure free and full access of humanitarian aid and which measures must be taken to ensure that humanitarian workers, journalists and members of the opposition could express their opinion without fear of being harassed or arrested.

DANIEL BAER (United States) said the Independent Expert stated in his report that the general human rights situation in the Sudan had deteriorated. The Council must do all it could to help ensure that human rights were protected, and it was essential that the Government provide a conducive environment for the exercise of political rights with firm guarantees of the fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly. The United States was also concerned regarding restrictions on civil and political rights in the North and South. Primary responsibility for protecting civilians lay with the Government of Southern Sudan, and it was important that it and UNMIS took necessary steps to protect civilians and deter violence. There was still a culture of impunity in Darfur, in addition to a lack of accountability and judicial capacity. The Independent Expert should expand reporting on human rights conditions in the North, outside of Darfur, where restrictions on civil and political rights had increased. It was imperative that the Council continue to demonstrate its concern for the situation in the Sudan by continuing a one-year mandate focused on the situation, in particular with respect to the implementation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Independent Expert could play an essential role, being helpful in promoting human rights and highlighting issues pertaining to the rights of persons in key areas. The Independent Expert's role in the Sudan was unique, as there was no other United Nations mechanism mandated to report on human rights throughout the country. This wide focus helped the United Nations and the international community as a whole to better direct its resources in dealing with the urgent human rights problems in Sudan.

IBRAHIM ALDREDI (Libya) thanked the Independent Expert for his report and congratulated the Sudan for the new laws it had implemented protecting the rights of children. As another example of progress, a workshop had been held in Darfur, which spoke of women’s rights in the Sudan. Libya sought to bring together the different groups in the Sudan with the goal of reconciliation and building peace in Darfur. With respect to human rights, tangible progress had been made in the Sudan and Libya commended the Government for establishing a plan of action to combat violence against women. These steps had increased confidence within society. In addition, Libya said that the normalization of relations with Chad should also be noted.

FAYSAL KHABBAZ HAMOUI (Syria) said the report presented by the Independent Expert gave the Human Rights Council good news regarding the human rights situation in the Sudan, and the results achieved through the efforts of the Government. The Sudan had agreed to work with full transparency and integrity with the international community and these laudable efforts should be recognised by this Council. Syria supported the Sudan’s efforts to end the conflict and said its difficulties arose from the low level of development and lack of financial means. Syria believed the time came to end the mandate of the Independent Expert and called on the international community to lend a hand to the Sudan in the promotion and protection of human rights in this country.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI. (France) said it was essential for the Council to continue to be informed of the situation of human rights on the ground in the Sudan in order to continue to work for their improvement, in particular with regard to mobilising the necessary technical assistance in good time, and therefore the mandate of the Independent Expert should be renewed. He gave a comprehensive panorama of the situation, with progress made, but also the difficulties existing throughout the territory. France was seriously concerned by the seriousness of the exactions perpetrated by all parties to the conflict, in particular attacks on humanitarian workers and the civilian population, and daily violations of civil and political rights. France wished the Independent Expert to elaborate on what were the prospects in the fight against impunity and what he recommended in this area; and what action should be taken to establish effective local capacity for the protection and promotion of human rights.

SAEED AL HABSI (United Arab Emirates) said that the United Arab Emirates had read the report with great interest and it appeared as though Sudan had made great progress in the field of human rights, through the creation of legislation and constitutional reforms in this regard. Specific measures had been taken by the Sudan to raise awareness of human rights for their law enforcement officials. Furthermore, cooperation with international human rights mechanisms showed the Sudan’s commitment to improving the situation of human rights in its country. In light of all these points, the United Arab Emirates believed that the mandate did not need to be renewed.

MOHAN PEIRIS (Sri Lanka) said the initiative of the Government of the Sudan to facilitate the visit of the Independent Expert was laudable. The Government had also made some encouraging progress in the recent past, especially in the area of legislative reform in agreement with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution, as well as the implementation of recommendations of the Group of Experts on Darfur. Sri Lanka encouraged the Sudan to consider ratifying the remaining international instruments, in particular the Convention against Torture. While recognizing the improvements that had been made in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights, Sri Lanka looked forward to more constructive approach by this Council to addressing the situation in the Sudan. Sri Lanka requested the United Nations and the international community to provide technical assistance and capacity building. In conclusion, Sri Lanka said it was important to appreciate that economic development was important and it called on Member States to extend more support to the Government of the Sudan.

REBECCA SAGAR (United Kingdom) said significant challenges faced Sudan in the lead up to the Referenda on self-determination for the South, and the status of Abyei. Ensuring a peaceful, free and credible referendum must be the focus of all in the Sudan. The United Kingdom remained deeply concerned by the continuing violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law. The deterioration of the situation since April was alarming. It was vital that rights were protected - reports of harassment, intimidation, arrests and detention in both the North and South were unacceptable, and the ongoing insecurity in Darfur was extremely concerning. This was exemplified by increased levels of lawlessness, inter-tribal violence, attacks against civilians, aid workers and peacekeepers and kidnappings. The Government must address the climate of impunity by bringing those involved to justice, and all parties to the conflict should work together to achieve a lasting peace for Darfur. The mandate should be renewed. The United Kingdom had two questions: in which areas would technical support from the Independent Expert be most valuable; and what more could be done to strengthen the capacity of existing human rights fora in the Sudan.

DANTE MARTINELLI (Switzerland) said that Switzerland strongly supported the mandate of the Independent Expert. Concerning the upcoming referendum on South Sudan, Switzerland hoped that certain violations that took place during the April elections would not reoccur, such as the harassment of independent candidates and the intimidation of opposition candidates. Moreover, several perpetrators had still not been tried for crimes committed during the conflict and the victims had not received reparations. International humanitarian law needed to be applied and the persons responsible for crimes needed to be brought to trial. The recently enacted law on children was indeed a step in the right direction but the application of the death penalty against minors was of grave concern for Switzerland. The Human Rights Council should continue to follow the human rights situation in the Sudan and it supported the renewal of this mandate.

RANA MOKADDEM (Lebanon) said Lebanon had read with interest the report by the Independent Expert and welcomed the improvements in the human rights situation it outlined. The Government of the Sudan had enacted new legislation, implemented national elections and ratified a number of international instruments. Lebanon called on the international community to support this country and its efforts to achieve peace for the benefit of all its citizens.

MICHEAL TIERNEY (Ireland) said it was clear from the report that there had been progress in human rights in the Sudan and in the application of the recommendations of the Group of Experts, but limited progress in some areas, and even deterioration in others in recent months. The Government had not made any new efforts with regard to displaced populations, in particular in Southern Darfur. In terms of the efforts to strengthen human rights institutions, the human rights fora held in Khartoum and Darfur were welcome, but UNAMID had been denied unfettered access to places of detention in Khartoum and Darfur, and this was a matter for concern. With regard to violence against women, sexual violence was an ongoing concern, especially in Darfur, but some positive steps had been made. On human rights defenders, one of the recommendations in the report was to ensure that they were not harassed, arbitrarily detained or arrested, and this should be applied. It was essential that the Government provide an environment conducive to the expression of fundamental civil and political rights. The Council must remain fully engaged on the Sudan at this critical juncture, and therefore Ireland supported the renewal of the mandate.

PETER WOOLCOTT (Australia) said that Australia was deeply concerned by the Independent Expert’s findings on arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and ill-treatment by security and intelligence forces throughout Sudan. A lack of accountability for serious human rights violations in Darfur and Southern Sudan was of particular concern. Australia also shared the concern of the Independent Expert about increasing tribal violence in Southern Sudan, including the attendant loss of life among women and children. Ahead of the Abyei referenda, Australia urged Sudan to promote an environment conducive to the enjoyment of freedom of expression, assembly and political participation. Finally, Australia said that it wished to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert in order to work closely with the Sudanese Government to implement the recommendations.

MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq) said Iraq had carefully considered the report which reflected positive developments in the human rights situation and positive steps undertaken by the Government of the Sudan to ensure rights for its people, including the right to vote and the rights of women and children. The report indicated significant progress and achievements in the field of human rights, including the legislative reform, the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the determination of the future of South Sudan on the basis of the referendum. Elections in 2010 had constituted a turning point in the history of the Sudan and were a success thanks to the work of the Independent Electoral Commission. Iraq wanted to hear more from the Independent Expert about the efforts made by the Government of the Sudan in the fields of development and law enforcement, and also the effectiveness of efforts to promote human rights.

MOHAMMAD REZA GHAEBI (Iran) said Iran appreciated the efforts made by the Government of the Sudan to improve the human rights situation in the country as well as the cooperation extended to the United Nations and other international agencies. The Independent Expert had acknowledged that the Government had made notable progress in institution and legislative reform in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and that some concrete steps had been taken to implement the recommendations of the Group of Experts. The Government had conducted general elections at all levels as a major step towards democratic transition. Considerable improvement had been achieved in Darfur with regard to security, banditry, criminal and military activities. The hard work of the Government, the progress achieved so far, and the complexity of the situation in Darfur should be taken into consideration by the Council in its overall evaluation of the current situation in the region. All relevant international endeavours needed to be carried out with the full involvement of the Government to bring about a lasting peace and stability in the region. To this end, politicisation should be avoided and the efforts of the Government should be recognized and acknowledged.

SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW (Thailand) said that Thailand felt that the Independent Expert’s report provided a balanced and constructive assessment of how the recommendations of the Group of Experts on Darfur had been implemented. Given the many challenges faced by the Government of the Sudan, Thailand recognized the concrete progress that had been made in a number of areas. Thailand also welcomed the institutional and legislative reforms made to mainstream human rights, particular children’s rights. Thailand encouraged the Sudan to continue working closely and cooperating with all parties concerned in this area, including the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). In closing, Thailand affirmed that it would continue participating in the UNAMID peacekeeping forces.

SAAD AL FARARGI, of League of Arab States, said that the League of Arab States appreciated the report of the Independent Expert which reflected the cooperation between him and the Government of the Sudan. For a number of years the League of Arab States had held close contacts with major players in the Sudan, including the Government, the United Nations, rebel groups and civil society. The Sudan had achieved major progress in the field of development although many donors had not fulfilled their commitments. The new strategy on Darfur prepared by the Government of the Sudan deserved to be commended and it had already obtained the support of many regional and international players. The League of Arab States supported the recommendations contained in the report of the Independent Expert and welcomed the progress in the promotion and protection of human rights in the Sudan. Also, the League of Arab States called for follow up on the recommendations, with the joint efforts of the Government of the Sudan, the United Nations and the international community. Finally, the League of Arab States underlined that there was no need for the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Sudan.
MARKO HAM (Slovenia) said Slovenia was alarmed by the situation of human rights in the Sudan, particularly in Darfur, and by the culture of impunity surrounding those accountable for gross human rights violations. Despite some positive developments in the country, there was concern for the protection of civilians, in particular women and children. Children faced grave violations by all parties in the conflict, such as recruitment and use, intentional killing and maiming, kidnapping, sexual violence, and others. The Independent Expert should explain what were the measures necessary to effectively address the grave violations against children, especially to prevent the recruitment and re-recruitment of children in armed forces and groups, and to fight impunity of those responsible for these violations. Slovenia supported the Independent Expert's recommendation that the Human Rights Council should remain engaged in the Sudan until it was assured of concrete improvements in the human rights situation on the ground.

OSAMU SAKASHITA (Japan) said that Japan appreciated the work of the Independent Expert and also the political will of the Sudanese Government to allow the visit of the Independent Expert to take place and to take steps to improve its human rights situation. Japan appreciated the fact that general elections took place in Sudan last April in a largely peaceful fashion with a broad participation of the Sudanese people. Japan hoped that the technical and logistical lessons learned during the general elections would be applied when holding the referendum on South Sudan next year. The Sudan continued to struggle with various issues such as a difficulty in obtaining judicial access, a lack of due process of the law, impunity and a reliance on traditional courts. Japan reiterated that it would continue to work with the Sudan in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation so as to assist in its efforts to improve its human rights situation.

ROBERTO FLORES BERMUDEZ (Honduras) said that there was no doubt that significant progress had been made in a number of areas in the human rights field in the Sudan, such as legislative reforms, the peaceful national elections at all levels and the implementation of various recommendations of the Group of Experts on Darfur. The report also highlighted the aspects where more attention was required, such as the death penalty, communal violence in South Sudan, armed violence in Darfur and others. The report underscored the political will of the Government of National Unity to improve the human rights situation and to cooperate with the United Nations mechanisms. The situation in the Sudan should continue to be under the examination of this Council, Honduras said. It was one of the situations that requested a coordinated cooperation that would support the political will of the Government of the Sudan to improve the human rights situation in the country.

ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) said the report contained very important information, and reaffirmed that the Government had made institutional and legislative reforms in accord with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the National Constitution of 2005, leading to the adoption of new laws on the rights of the child, the law of the press and publications, and the referendum in South Sudan. This was also reflected in the elections held at the national, federal and local levels. All of these developments showed that there was a strong determination on the part of the Government to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and promote them further. The Government was convinced of the need to strengthen human rights values, but this was a long-term process, and therefore the international community needed to show solidarity with these efforts, and continue to promote national reconciliation.

GEIR SJOBERG (Norway) said that the Independent Expert’s report clearly demonstrated the relevance and added value of the mandate and Norway was looking forward to participating in open, inclusive and transparent consultations on the extension of the mandate on the situation of human rights in the Sudan. Norway was concerned about the situation of the press and for the freedom of speech and association in the Sudan and called upon the Government to ensure that these principles were fully respected in all parts of the country. In Darfur, Norway remained deeply concerned about the deterioration of the security situation, including ceasefire violations by the Government of Sudan and rebel groups and increased inter-tribal fighting and kidnappings. Finally, Norway urged the Government of the Sudan to establish the Human Rights Commission as a National Institution on Human Rights in accordance with the Paris Principles.

HECTOR RAUL PELAEZ (Argentina) said Argentina thanked the Independent Expert on the Sudan for his work and reiterated its deep concern over the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Sudan. This concern was the reason why Argentina actively participated in the United Nations Mission in the Sudan. Since the outset, Argentina had actively supported the establishment of a peacekeeping mission in the Sudan, especially since the basic preconditions were met, such as its establishment under the United Nations and the support of the Government of the Sudan. Argentina expressed its commitment to cooperating for the improvement of the human rights situation in the Sudan.

ABDULWAHAB ATTAR (Saudi Arabia) said the conclusions and recommendations by the Independent Expert had been thoroughly examined, and they contained some important points, showing that the Government of the Sudan had made considerable efforts to implement the recommendations of the Group of Experts, including legislative reforms. The report also mentioned that the Government was fully prepared to cooperate with all bodies, including those providing assistance relief to the people. With regard to the approach taken by the Government in order to find solutions to conflicts through peaceful means, Saudi Arabia reiterated the need to support these efforts in order to allow the Government to live up to its international obligations and to be able to rebuild peace and stability and coordinate efforts with all humanitarian bodies. There was a need to restore peace and security in the Sudan. The Independent Expert should explain the references in the report to institutionalise normalised improvements and what these were.

QIAN BO (China) said that China it had taken note of the report and thanked the Independent Expert for his efforts. The report pointed out that the Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan had made significant progress in the field of human rights. The Sudan had taken concrete steps to protect the security of women and children. The conflict situation in Darfur had been relieved and this was to be commended. China had always supported he North-South peace process and supported the deployment of peacekeeping forces. However, the sovereignty of the Sudan needed to be respected by the international community and their national problems needed to be resolved internally. Given all of these points, China did not support the renewal of this mandate.

SO SE PYOND (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea took note of the commitment and efforts of the Government of the Sudan in the field of human rights. This had been exemplified in areas such as establishing domestic human rights institutions, legislative reforms and other major steps. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was particularly encouraged by measures to improve peace and security as preconditions for the promotion and protection of human rights. Human rights issues must be resolved in a constructive and sincere dialogue. Country mandates that were imposed and continued to exist for purposes other than genuine human rights concern constituted extreme manifestations of politicization and double standards. Finally, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed its strong support for the on-going efforts of the Sudan and the countries in the region and beyond.

NUR AZURA ABD KARIM (Malaysia) said it was encouraging to note the significant advances made by the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan in addressing human rights and related issues, as highlighted in the Independent Expert's report. Malaysia also noted his view on the need for the Government to undertake more effective measures to ensure that human rights challenges and security issues in the country were fully addressed. Given the complexity, diversity and multiplicity of the human rights, humanitarian and security challenges faced by the Sudan, Malaysia wished to reiterate its call on the continued constructive engagement of the international community, particularly the donor countries, to continue to provide technical assistance and financial support as necessary and as requested by the Government in order to improve the human rights and humanitarian condition of its people.

IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) said that to a significant extent the situation of human rights in the Sudan was a reflection of the obligations enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the Interim Constitution of 2005 linked to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Sweden was deeply concerned about the prevailing impunity for grave violations of human rights, particularly in the case of Darfur. Protection of the civilian population in Darfur, and elsewhere where lawlessness prevailed, had to be improved. The information about unlawful arrests and death sentences on confessions made under torture was alarming and Sweden urged the Sudan to abolish the death penalty. Finally, Sweden was of the strong belief that the important work of the Independent Expert needed to continue and therefore urged the Council to renew his mandate.

MARJOLIJN LUCHTMEIJER (Netherlands) said that unfortunately the security and human rights situation in the Sudan had not improved since the visit of the Independent Expert to the Sudan. There was a slight improvement of political freedoms such as freedom of expression and assembly during the electoral process. During the election of March 2010 however, the authorities of North Sudan became more restrictive, given the closure of a number of newspapers, arrests of journalists and other incidents. The security situation deteriorated over the past few months. Internally displaced persons were severely affected by the Government’s decision to close some of the camps. Political tension was increasing in the last year of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and it was crucial that the freedom of expression was respected by all, for the peaceful transition to the post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement period. The Netherlands wanted to hear from the Independent Expert about major human rights concerns in the run-up to the January 2011 referendum. The Netherlands also asked if the extension of the mandate of the Independent Expert was essential to strengthen further democratisation.

MUNA ABBAS RADHI (Bahrain) said the efforts being made by the Government of the Sudan to protect and promote human rights in the country were appreciated, as were the positive events that had taken place, and the Government's cooperation with international bodies, bearing witness to the country's interest in the protection and promotion of human rights. The Government had taken specific measures to improve the human rights situation, in particular efforts to improve the legislative and constitutional framework. The Independent Expert was congratulated for his work. The country continued to need help in implementing all the recommendations.

IMAD ZUHAIRI (Palestine) thanked the Independent Expert for his hard work and the reports. Palestine noted that the report said that there needed to be greater international technical assistance to the Sudan in order to help it make progress on its human rights based activities. Palestine asked the Independent Expert whether, in his opinion, real efforts had been made to meet the recommendation for technical assistance.

HABIB SAVANE (African Union) said that the African Union paid particular attention to the situation in the Sudan in the framework of its efforts to promote peace and security on the continent. The Assembly of the African Union welcomed the peaceful and successful elections, despite the difficulties experienced during the process, and called on all parties to double the efforts for democratic transformation of the country, in accordance with the vision outlined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The parties should start the negotiations on post-referendum arrangements in accordance with the Mekkele accord. The establishment of the Consultative Forum on the Sudan was welcomed and concern was expressed over the deterioration of the security situation in Darfur. In the light of the report of the Independent Expert, the African Union said that there were improvements in the human rights situation. The Sudan was engaged in a very complex stabilisation process and it would be wise of the international community to provide the support so that it could succeed in implementing reforms and actions.

PHILIPPE DAM, of Human Rights Watch, said the Human Rights Council should give particular attention to addressing the lack of protection of the human rights of civilians in the Sudan; the culture of impunity; and in promoting civil and political rights across the Sudan in the lead-up to the referendum. In Darfur, the peace process had stalled, and violence had increased in the face of shrinking access to affected areas by UNAMID and humanitarian agencies. In Southern Sudan, the increase in inter-ethnic violence, ongoing resource conflicts, and attacks on civilians demonstrated the inability of the Government authorities or the United Nations Mission in the Sudan to protect civilians. The protection of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and movement to polling stations was essential prior to the southern self-determination referendum. To respond to the needs of millions of people, the Human Rights Council must renew the mandate of the Independent Expert.

ZAID ABDEL TAWAB, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said despite limited progress made by the Government of the Sudan in some areas of law, the general human rights and humanitarian situation in the country continued to deteriorate. The report of the Independent Expert highlighted an increase in conflict between different tribal groups. The Government was still unwilling to reform its domestic justice system to ensure the prosecution of crimes, and remained hostile to all regional and international efforts to implement international justice. Instead of dealing with the crises that existed, the Government had attempted to bury the truth by isolating and silencing the victims of human rights violations. Failure to renew the mandate on the Sudan would be tantamount to silencing millions of victims of the most horrendous crimes.

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