The 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 26 February – 5 April 2024, will consider issues including the protection of human rights defenders, freedom of religion or belief, protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, the right to food and adequate housing, among others. It will also present an opportunity to address grave human rights situations in States including Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, China, Syria, South Sudan, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Eritrea, occupied Palestinian territory/Israel, among many others. Here’s an overview of some of the key issues on the agenda.
In a statement to the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, ISHR highlights that lack of accountability for past human rights violations is fueling a cycle of impunity. ISHR further encourages the Government to cooperate with the UN Commission on South Sudan and the African Commission.
The human rights situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate. This year thousands of people were killed, often on grounds of ethnicity or perceived political alliance. Millions of children were affected. Sexual violence with impunity is rampant. And over 4 million people were forced to leave their homes.
‘While the Government denies most of these violations, it – as well as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition – is responsible for human rights abuses’, says ISHR Programme Manager Clément Voule.
Freedom of association and expression are severely restricted. Journalists and defenders are frequently arbitrarily detained. Prolonged arbitrary detention is common for Government critics and opponents. Charges are rare and trials are scarce.
‘An example is that of Addil Faris Maray, former director of South Sudan television, who was detained this July without charge. It is integral that the Government take steps to protect the legitimate work of defenders. Their contribution to this struggle is vital’, added Voule.
Lack of accountability for past human rights violations fuels a cycle of impunity. The establishment of a strong accountability mechanism is overdue.
‘We urge the UN Commission on Human Rights to highlight the full extent of violations. We call on the Government to cooperate with the African Union to establish the hybrid court and end the use of court martials in crimes committed by the military against civilians’, stressed Voule.
The Government has initiated a process of national dialogue. How can dialogue deliver when freedom of expression is not protected? The Government stated an intention to establish a truth commission, yet its citizens continue to be slaughtered. It’s time officials and other forces are held to account for crimes against civilians.
Contact: Clément Voule, [email protected]
Photo: Steve Evans via Flickr
For many rights holders, victims and human rights defenders, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) provides a vital lever increasing pressure for change at the national level, while for others it provides the last resort or only opportunity to expose violations, seek accountability, and garner support for their essential work towards a fair, equal and sustainable world. We need the HRC to be credible, effective and accessible to everyone. This is only possible if States ensure that remote and hybrid participation of civil society is maintained; that international law is upheld universally; promptly and adequately respond to HRDs’ demands for accountability; lead and support HRC action in line with objective human rights criteria; and ensure that HRC members live up to their responsibilities, including full cooperation with the HRC and its mechanisms.
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