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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing note on Sudan, Kyrgyzstan and Egypt

10 June 2011

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
10 June 2011

(1) Sudan
(2) Kyrgyzstan
(3) Egypt

(1) Sudan

With regards to the ongoing fighting in Kadugli and neighbouring towns and villages in South Kordofan State between northern and southern security forces (the Sudanese armed forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army), we have received extremely worrying reports of civilian casualties, mass displacement and deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

Our human rights officers continue to monitor the situation and have been in touch with doctors and a priest in the region who have confirmed a number of civilian injuries and deaths from Um Durein village and Talodi town, as well as house to house searches in the west of Kadugli. Roadblocks have been imposed by the fighting forces preventing medical and humanitarian access. A number of civilians have been killed trying to retrieve food from their homes in the area and the Kadugli Catholic Church, where a number of IDPs sought refuge, was attacked.

To give one example of the types of reports we have been receiving, a 25-year-old man from the Hagar Alnar neighbourhood told human rights officers that he and his eight siblings decided to revisit their home on Wednesday (8 June) morning to retrieve food and other items, but they were confronted by police forces who shot and killed two of his brothers. The fate of the other six is unknown. Eyewitnesses confirmed the incident.

We call on all parties to the conflict to immediately stop the indiscriminate shelling, refrain from attacks on civilians and provide safe corridors for the safe passage of civilians, in line with international humanitarian and human rights law. Humanitarian agencies must be allowed access to the affected population to provide urgently needed assistance.

(2) Kyrgyzstan

It has been one year now since the outbreak of inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan which left more than 435 dead, 2000 injured and hundreds of thousands displaced. However, despite Government efforts, deficiencies in the administration of justice continue to pose a major impediment to the attainment of justice for victims and the establishment of confidence in the rule of law throughout Kyrgyzstan, particularly in the south.

Trials monitored by OHCHR – from city courts to the Supreme Court – continue to reveal concerns about due process, the independence of the judiciary, security for defendants, their lawyers and court officials. Law enforcement investigations into the June events have routinely been accompanied by allegations of extortion, ill-treatment and torture of detainees.

Reports of continuing discriminatory practices towards Kyrgyzstan’s various national and ethnic minorities are deeply troublesome, particularly as the country moves into the politically charged atmosphere of a Presidential election campaign. We are concerned that if discrimination and intolerance are allowed to grow, they may escalate into further communal violence and even large-scale conflict.

Accountability and justice are essential to enable true reconciliation and the long term stability of the region. Victims needs to be able to seek redress and the government should look at developing a comprehensive reparations programme. The judicial system must maintain its impartiality irrespective of the ethnicity of victims, lawyers and defendants. Judges must be guided exclusively by the new Constitution and applicable international human rights standards.

Our office will continue to monitor developments and render all possible assistance towards this end.

We’ll be posting a webstory on http://www.ohchr.org later today describing the case of one of those who have been tortured in police custody and made to give a false confession in Osh.

(3) Egypt

An OHCHR assessment mission to Egypt, which took place from 27 March to 7 April, has released its report this week, outlining the human rights challenges that remain to be addressed in Egypt. The report reflects the concerns expressed by civil society, including with regards to the upcoming elections (legislative elections will be held in September 2011, presidential elections in November/December 2011). The report can be accessed on http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/EG/OHCHR_MissiontoEgypt27March_4April.pdf.

During this mission, officials at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed the Government’s willingness to host an OHCHR Regional Office for North Africa in Cairo. Preparations are also underway for a number of projects proposed by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs towards strengthening the rule of law and reform of the security sector, including human rights training for police officers."

For more information or interviews, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 or [email protected] ) or press officers: Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 or [email protected] ) or Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 or [email protected] )

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ENDS