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Sudan: UN expert raises concerns about violence against women, calls for legal reform

KHARTOUM  (24 April 2018) – The UN Independent Expert on Sudan expressed concern about reports that the security forces were using violence, intimidation and other forms of abuse to silence women across the country.

“These abuses are made worse in the wider context of gender inequality in Sudanese society and the legal framework that institutionalizes it,” Aristide Nononsi said at the end of a 10-day visit to the country.

He added that so-called public morality offences, such as those used against women deemed to be “indecently” dressed, along with the humiliation of corporal punishment, violated international human rights norms.

Nononsi reiterated his call for the Government to take effective measures, including reforming the country’s current legal framework, to address the serious institutional gaps in its security and justice system in order to promote respect for the rule of law and protection of human rights. He welcomed the appointment of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Commissioners of the Sudan National Human Rights Commission, which will enable it to function effectively.

During his visit, the Independent Expert drew the attention of the authorities to the situation of detainees in the Shallah Federal Prison in North Darfur, making specific reference to the cases of 117 men and women currently held under emergency laws.

He also raised concerns about the situation of 56 detainees sentenced to death, including the case of a woman whose appeal for a presidential pardon was recently rejected.

“These individuals are at risk of being executed at any time. They need protection and international attention must be directed to addressing this issue as a matter of urgency. I would encourage the Government to halt all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty,” said the Independent Expert.

He also deplored reports of human rights defenders, political activists and journalists being arrested and detained over protests in January and February 2018 in protest against austerity measures.

“I welcome the decision to release some of those who were arrested and I encourage the authorities to ensure everyone still arbitrarily detained is released, and also to undertake that no such detentions should happen in the future,” he added.

The Independent Expert will present his full findings to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2018.

Mr. Aristide Nononsi (Benin) was designated as the new Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. Mr. Nononsi has a doctorate in law and is a specialist in international law, human rights and development, with extensive experience in international and African organizations. Mr. Nononsi was executive director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), and worked for the Centre for Development Area Studies at Mc Gill University, the African Development Bank and the International Labour Organization.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Sudan

For more information and press inquiries, please contact:
In Khartoum (during the visit): Mr. Khaled Moualem (+249 (0) 912 100 501/ khaled.moualem@one.un.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Mr. Dieudonne Munyinga (+41 22 928 9231 / dmunyinga@ohchr.org) or write to ie-sudan@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org