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Sudan: Considerable reforms but major challenges remain- independent expert

23 October 2020

Man and woman with Sudan flag

At the end of his six-year tenure as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi said that considerable efforts had been made by the Transitional Government to address systemic human rights concerns, including commitments to tackle impunity. However, he added, major challenges remain.

Nononsi was presenting to the Human Rights Council in Geneva his final report, which covered the period from 27 September 2019 to 16 July 2020. On 6 October 2020, at its 45th session, the Council adopted resolution 45/25 that ended the mandate of the independent expert on the Sudan.

“The Government has taken some steps to ensure delivering    justice to the victims, but it requires sustained international support and engagement with the country. The support should entail clear and unambiguous strategies and integrated visions to help guide the Sudan through a challenging transition period,” he said.

The expert commended the Government’s cooperation in establishing a UN Human Rights country office in the capital Khartoum, which was declared operational in July 2020. He also welcomed the initialling of the peace agreement on 31 August 2020, and encouraged the Government and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdul Wahid and the al-Hilu faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/North – two armed groups that had not joined the peace accord - to continue their dialogue to come to an agreement.

Indicating that parties to the peace accord had consented to establishing transitional justice mechanisms and cooperating with the International Criminal Court, Nononsi further expressed his hope for a peace agreement that would comply with international human rights principles, represent the views of the Sudan’s marginalized groups and address issues of accountability and transitional justice.

“Experience also shown that accountability is a critical element to combating violence and preventing recurrence of violations in the future,” he said. “Those responsible for the grave human rights violations committed during the past few decades in the Sudan should be held to account through fair trials that respect international human rights standards.”

Nononsi pointed out further that the recent law reforms, which, he said, will have impact on human rights and individual freedoms in the country, constituted a historical move by the Government toward the reform of the criminal justice system. However, he expressed concern at the delays in delivering justice to the victims of the violent dispersal of peaceful sit-in in Khartoum on 3 June 2019.

“I urge the Government to provide the necessary support to the National Independent Investigation Committee to enable it to do its utmost to secure justice and reparations for victims, hold all those responsible to account, without exception, in accordance with due process rules consistent with international standards, and make its findings public,” the expert said.

Long-standing discrimination and inequality negatively affect the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in the Sudan, and remain the root causes of civil unrest and conflicts in the country, Nononsi also said.

“Since June 2020, many incidents of intercommunal violence have been reported in the regions affected by the conflicts. This highlights the inherent fragility and unique challenges facing the transition in the Sudan,” he added. As such, a comprehensive, nation-wide approach is required to address these challenges.”

The expert also encouraged the Government, through its National Committee for the protection of civilians, to swiftly implement its comprehensive strategy to address the urgent need for the physical protection of civilians across the Sudan.

“The human rights situation in the Sudan demands the continued attention and support of all relevant partners. I urge the international community to deliver its pledged financial support and remove impediments to the Sudan’s economic recovery to ensure a sustainable transition to democracy,” Nononsi said.

The expert also took the opportunity to urge the Government to ratify the international human rights treaties to which the Sudan is not yet a State party.

“I salute the Sudanese people and wish them the best as I am ending this mandate,” Nononsi added.

23 October 2020