This week, in the framework of the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sudan in its third cycle, States welcomed the ratification by Sudan of the international cooperation mechanisms and its acceptance of the UPR recommendations. On the other hand, States also called for a peaceful and democratic transition and the continued implementation of commitments to achieve national stability.
While Sudan affirmed its protection of freedom of association and the rights of civil society organisations, including by facilitating the work of press and media workers, they noted 29 recommendations that remain outstanding in the context of the crisis that continues to affect the rights of protesters and women in the country.
Sudan authorities continue to commit serious human rights violations against protesters. Despite statements by Sudan’s representative at the fiftieth session of the Human Rights Council (HRC50) on the release of detainees – which contradicted the High Commissioner’s report on the country -, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and torture continue to occurr in the country and require effective and prompt investigation.
Countries such as Lesotho mentioned in their intervention the urgent need for Sudan to redouble its efforts to address abuses by state authorities. In this regard, several speakers encouraged relevant legislative reforms. For example, the country’s Penal Code still contains provisions limiting personal freedoms and criminalising blasphemy.
ISHR delivered a joint statement on behalf of MENA Women Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Sudan Women Rights Action and Nora Center for Combating Sexual Violence:
ISHR regrets that Sudan refuses to accept the recommendation related to the opening of civic space and to defend freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the protection of these rights in all circumstances, especially in the context of the transition:
“We urge Sudan to immediately end the targeting of women human rights defenders and protect their right to advocate and promote women and human rights”, said Salma El Hosseiny, Human Rights Council Program Manager at ISHR, during the joint intervention.
On the other hand, the Sudanese delegation highlighted during its presentation the legislative ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the United Nations Convention against Torture. Also, in the context of international cooperation, the Government of Sudan said that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the Prosecutor of the Criminal Court.
However, several speakers from States and NGOs, including Sierra Leone, Action Canada Defenders and ISHR, regretted that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CRMW) have not yet been ratified.
ISHR noted Sudan’s acceptance of recommendations such as moving forward with the formation of the Commission for Women and Gender Equality and other legal reforms. But highlighted that it remains of major importance to ratify CEDAW and its optional protocol without reservations and that the country has refused to repeal the provisions on male guardianship and wife obedience.
On this last point, Sudan responded, referring to the exceptions to the accepted recommendations, that these are related to the country’s traditions and culture.
ISHR will continue to urge Sudan to comply with the recommendations on women’s rights and women human rights defenders which include, among others:
- Access to justice: guaranteeing victims, especially victims of sexual violence, judicial protection, and an end to impunity for the military and militias, as well as the security forces.
- Guaranteeing the rights to freedom of assembly and association: Sudan must end the targeting of women human rights defenders and accelerate the reform of the military and security forces and ensure civilian control.
- Continued international cooperation and the progress of reforms to guarantee women’s rights: By repealing forms of discrimination including the security laws, the RSF laws and the Muslim Personal Law of 1991.