Statements re: Sudan to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights | May 4 – 6, 2017 | NGO Forum, Niger:
The African Commission for Human and People’s Rights 60 Ordinary session– Niamey, Niger
Delivered by Abdelrahman Gasim, External Relations Secretary, Darfur Bar Association
Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to present a statement on the human rights situation in Sudan.
The period of the last six months has witnessed intense harassment of human rights activists, with arbitrary arrests and restriction on to their activities. In December 2016, the Sudanese Security Apparatus arrested dozens of human rights activists, trade union representatives, and leaders of political parties in connection with civil disobedience in Khartoum. Some of them have been released without any charges filed against them. Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, who received the Front Line Award for Human Rights Defenders, is still being detained after being transferred from Kober Prison to the office of the Prosecutor of Crimes Against the State. The Sudanese authorities have been persistent in filing criminal charges that carry the death sentence, the same as crimes against the state, against defenders of human rights.
The Sudanese authorities have shut down Tracks Centre for Training and Human Development, and the court has sentenced the head of the Centre and one of its trainer as well as the executive director of the Zarga Organization to jail for one year and a fine of 50,000 Sudanese pounds for no other reason than that they operated in the field of human rights.
The government is still exercising prior restraint and arbitrary restrictions against newspapers and journalists. Since November 2016, and to this very moment, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has confiscated newspapers after publication 24 times. More than 15 journalists have been repeatedly summoned to the NISS headquarter or arrested. Journalists receive repeated threats. Four broadcasters on satellite channels have been detained, and journalists Zuheir Al-Siraj and Othman Shabouna have been prevented from writing in the newspapers.
Freedom of Religion and Belief
In January 2017, a criminal court in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum sentenced Czech priest Petr Jezek to 24 years in jail and a fine of 100,000 Sudanese pounds (about 15,475 USD). It sentenced Priest Hasan Abd Al-Rahim and rights activist Abd Al-Mun’im Abd Al-Mawla each to 12 years in prison for their religious beliefs. On 3 April 2017, in his attempt to prevent the sale of the Evangelical Church in Omdurman to a foreign investor, a Christian clergyman, Younan Abdullah, was killed. During the last few months the State of Khartoum issued an administrative decrees to remove and demolish 27 churches in the State of Khartoum, and yesterday, on 7 May 2017, a church was demolished in the area of Suba al-Aradi.
Torture, and Inhumane and Degrading Treatment
The authorities in the Sudan practice torture against detainees in their detention. They engage in inhumane treatment by denying them medication and incarcerate them in conditions that are incompatible with recognized standards. In the city of Nyala in the state of South Darfur, a man died from torture in April 2017. Hafez Idris, who was arrested by the security authorities in December 2016, was kicked in sensitive areas of his body and beaten with electrical wires. Two detainees from Darfur at Kober Prison were severely beaten and they lost the ability to walk.
Areas of Conflict in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile
The areas of conflict in the Sudan suffer from heavy restriction to food and medicine from reaching displaced persons and victims of war.
In October 2016, Amnesty International confirmed without any doubt that the government used chemical weapons in the Jebel Marra Mountains in the State of Central Darfur. The organization has gathered evidence that strongly proves the repeated use of chemical weapons against civilians, and the statistics indicate that between 200 and 250 people were killed. Yesterday, on 7 May 2017, the Rapid Support Force, a pro-government militia, attacked several villages in the state of Central Darfur. Nine civilians were killed and 22 others were injured, and the villages were burned. On 9 April 2017, the militias attacked the Karandanaq Camp in the state of West Darfur. Three people were killed and 10 were injured, and the camp’s market was burned. This is an example, and it is not exclusive.
In November 2016, in the area of Gereida in the state of South Darfur, 11 citizens were killed and another eight were injured. The security apparatus arrested five people and others are missing, when they protested the assault on two girls by the pro-government militias.
There have been ongoing cases of rapes in Darfur committed by members of pro-government militias used as systematic tool of war against women and girls. A girl, Fadna Adam Mohammed, was raped on 25 April 2017 by armed men and her genital organs were torn with a [unknown word usage, possibly “sharp object”].
The peace process in the Sudan has stopped due to the government’s refusal to continue the process of negotiation and to trust in the process of National Dialogue that was called for by the ruling party. Key opposition parties and three main armed groups have boycotted the national Dialogue. This has halted any progress that would lead to a durable peace.
Recommendations: We call upon the government of Sudan:
 To respect its legal obligations pursuant to regional and international agreements and those for reinforcing the principles of human rights to which it is a party.
 To implement the resolutions and recommendations approved by the African Commission, especially to abrogate Article 52 of the National Security Law and all the other laws that grant immunity to state employees in violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the crime of torture, and all forms of violence against women, including physical punishment that is carried out under the aegis of the system of the Public Order Law.
 To stop all violations of human rights and basic freedoms, including arbitrary arrests and detention, unlawful l killing, torture, mistreatment of detainees, and to support freedom of expression, assembly, and the freedom to form associations, as well as freedom of the press and the information media.
 To stop dismantling the settlements in which displaced persons are currently living domestically, and not to prevent new displaced persons from joining existing settlements, which will deny them any humanitarian assistance.
 To stop decisions to demolish and remove Christian places of worship in the national capital, and harassment and persecution, and targeting of priests and Christian officials, and investigate the killing of Younan Abdullah of the Evangelical Church on 3 April 2017.
 We call on the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and the United Nations Security Council to cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to continue to investigate and expose reports of the use of chemical weapons in Darfur.
 We urge the African Union to continue its efforts to combat evasion of punishment and to expand regional coordination to prevent the occurrence of war crimes in areas of conflict in Darfur, Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains. We likewise call on the member countries of the African Union to cooperate with the International Criminal Court and implement the court’s decisions on arresting those implicated on war crimes in Darfur.
 We urge the African Union and the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan, chaired by Thabo Mbeki, to pressure the parties to the conflict in the Sudan to return to the negotiating table and reach a comprehensive peace that will extinguish the fires of war.
Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Sudan | May 8 – 22, 2017 | ACHPR Official Session:
Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Sudan
We, the participants at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held in Niamey (Niger), during the period 4th to 6th May 2017:
Considering the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other regional and international human rights instruments to which the Sudan is a state party and that Sudan is legally bound to fully and effectively implement the provisions of these instruments, and respect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms set therein without discrimination on any ground;
Appreciating efforts of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Commission) to address the situation in Sudan and recalling in this regard previous missions conducted by the Commission to Sudan in 2004, 2009 and 2015 as well as the resolutions on the situation of human and peoples’ rights in the country since its 35th Ordinary Session held in Banjul in May – June 2004;
Noting the unwillingness of the government of Sudan to implement the Commission’s recommendations and Concluding Observations, including on Sudan’s Third Periodic Report as well as past decisions in which the Commission, inter alia, requested Sudan to improve the human rights situation in the country, abolish practices that violate the absolute prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment such as corporal punishment, and effectively investigate and prosecute those responsible for serious human rights violations including arbitrary detention and torture;
Deeply concerned that serious international crimes are taking place in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and that authentic reports indicated the repeated use of chemical weapons by the Government of Sudan against civilian populations in Jebel Marra area in Darfur since January 2016;
Welcoming regional and international efforts to combat impunity and to uphold justice to the victims, particularly the decision of the International Criminal Court to hold accountable individuals accused of planning, executing, condoning or encouraging the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur;
Alarmed by the deteriorating situation of human and peoples’ rights in Sudan, in particular extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and incommunicado detention without judicial review, torture and ill treatment of political detainees, students and pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders; the curtailment of the freedoms of expression, press and media as well as restrictions on freedom of association and assembly, violent suppression of public rallies and the dismantling of independent civil society; the application of corporal punishments, the demolishing of Churches and Christian places of worship and increasing restrictions on the rights of religious minorities in the country;
Strongly condemn serious international crimes, including indiscriminate and targeted military attacks and aerial bombardment of civilian areas and the destruction of habitats, health facilities, schools, places of worship, the killing and wounding of thousands of civilians; the collective punishment and mass forced displacement of villagers and communities from which the armed opposition groups are believed to originate; arbitrary and unacknowledged detentions, extrajudicial executions torture and sexual violence; and the continued obstruction of humanitarian assistance in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states; We call upon the 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to:
 Urge the government of Sudan to comply with its obligations under the AU Constitutive Act, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the UN Charter and all other regional and international human rights treaties to which Sudan is a state party;
 Call on the government of Sudan to implement decisions and recommendations adopted by the Commission, in particular to repeal Article 52 of the National Security Act and all other laws that confer immunity on state officials for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, to criminalize torture and all forms of violence against women including corporal punishment as practiced under the notorious Public Order Regime. Further urge the government of Sudan to cease all violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including arbitrary arrests and detention, extra-judicial killings, torture and ill treatment of detainees and uphold the freedoms of expression, assembly and association as well as the freedom of the press and media and guarantee the freedom of religion and conscience.
 Condemn the destruction and seizure of Christian places of worship in the national capital and the harassment, persecution and targeting of Christian priests and leaders, including the killing of Elder Younan Abdullah of Bahri Evangelical Church on 3rd April 2017, while defending women in the vicinity of the Evangelical School of Sudan in Omdurman.
 Condemn in the strongest terms the grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, including the reports of the use of chemical weapons in Darfur since January 2016, the continued indiscriminate aerial bombardments of civilian areas, farms and instantiations and ground attacks by army and allied militia, as well as the continued blockade of humanitarian aid.
 Condemn the government decision to dismantle settlements in which the internally displaced persons currently live and its attempts to prevent newly displaced persons to join the existing settlements thus depriving them of any humanitarian assistance.
 Call on the African Union Peace and Security Council and United Nations Security Council to join hands with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to further investigate reports of the use of chemical weapons in Darfur and make their findings public.
 Call on the government of Sudan to ensure that all persons held in its custody for political reasons, including the armed conflict in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile States are brought before courts of law and allowed unhindered access to family members, lawyers of their choice and to medical care. All persons held without judicial review should be released.
 Call on the government of Sudan to release all human rights defenders held without conviction or trial including Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam who has been illegally held captive by the National Intelligence and Security Service since December 2016, as well as all other defenders that are being held in detention.
 Urge the government of Sudan to stop all forms of harassment against independent civil society, to reverse its decisions to close independent human rights NGOs and research institutions and allow such groups to work freely and without interference and to ensure the safety and security of their members and staff.
 Urge all AU member states to continue their efforts in combating impunity and to expand regional coordination to apprehend and hand over all individuals accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.
Done at Niamey, Niger, 6th May 2017